J. Joksimović: Soon roadmap for opening clusters

February 03 2021 | Belgrade

J. Joksimović: Soon roadmap for opening clusters

Minister of European Integration Jadranka Joksimović has stated today that she expects that, by the end of February, the European Commission will present a roadmap, clearly defining criteria for negotiations by clusters which, according to the new enlargement methodology, comprise all previous chapters.

Appearing on RTS, Joksimović has stated that she believes the new system of EU membership negotiations will suit Serbia and that it will bring acceleration of the accession process.

“The first cluster that deals with the rule of law is practically already open, the chapters it contains have already been opened. It is the most important cluster as it will measure Serbia’s progress in meeting the political criteria”, noted Joksimović.

She has added that the new methodology obliges all ministries to actively engage in the EU accession process and to fulfil their part of obligations within specific clusters.

According to her, greater political commitment is needed.

Joksimović expects that the Intergovernmental Conference on the new methodology will be held by the end of June, where its application will be agreed. She believes that Serbia is also in a good position regarding the third cluster related to inclusive growth and competitiveness, which is crucial for the period of economic recovery from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Clusters 2, 3, 4 and 5 are also instruments for implementing the Investment Plan for the Western Balkans”, said the Minister.

Clusters comprising various areas have been introduced in the accession process through the new methodology which, Joksimović recalls, was initiated by French President Emmanuel Macron in 2019, while the European Commission and member states defined the new mechanism in March 2020. 

Joksimović has explained that the clusters represent six leading EU policies, noting that the first cluster is political, referring to the rule of law and a part of the economic criteria, and that the second is related to internal market – macroeconomic and fiscal policy and candidate country market convergence with the EU market, adding that the third cluster involves competitiveness and inclusive growth, the forth – Green Agenda, digitisation and infrastructural connectivity, while the fifth comprises resources, cohesion and agriculture, and the sixth – external policy.

According to the Minister, the new methodology focuses on stronger political steering of the process and on expectations from all Western Balkan leaders to demonstrate greater commitment to the European path.

“Although that was also implied before, now it is strictly required. On the other hand, this also obliges the EU to greater credibility of the process – if a country makes progress on its own merit, it will have more access to EU funds and other instruments”, noted Joksimović.

She believes that negotiating by chapters was a restrictive process.

“Serbia has so far opened 18 chapters. It was a very restrictive process compared to the one from 10 years ago when some of our neighbours joined the EU”, added the Minister.
Joksimović has said that the new methodology must find its way to be applied to countries such as Serbia, which are well-advanced in the accession process.

“The new methodology will not change the clear negotiating framework that Serbia and Montenegro have, but there must be a way to valorise what Belgrade has done so far and to enter a new negotiating framework, which is also linked to the investment plan of incentives for the Western Balkans”, stressed Joksimović.

Joksimović has said that Serbia has not be idle waiting for Brussels to provide guidelines for the methodology, adding that she alone has had more than 70 meetings with the representatives of the EU and member states concerning the new negotiation methodology. “Only through partner relations between the EU and Serbia can this whole process and task make sense”, emphasised Joksimović.

Joksimović has also spoken about the COVAX programme of COVID vaccine distribution, stating that she believes it has failed with regard to Western Balkan countries.

She has explained that WB countries have not yet been granted access to vaccine purchase through this mechanism, stressing that EUR 70 million was allocated from EU funds for that purpose, but that everything depends on when the producers and suppliers will fulfil their obligations towards EU countries that are still waiting for the vaccines they ordered.

“This is why it is important that the President and the Government have worked together on time to provide our citizens with the access to tested vaccines, and that we are a leading European country by the number of inoculated people, which has drawn a positive response in the European public”, added Joksimović.

Source: Tanjug