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J. Joksimović: Year of methodology clarification and process acceleration

February 13 2021 | Belgrade

J. Joksimović: Year of methodology clarification and process acceleration

Serbia is already well-advanced in the process of EU accession negotiations and cannot start from the beginning, so the European Commission must find the way for the new methodology to properly valorise the progress made so far, said Minister of European Integration Jadranka Joksimović, who expects the European Commission to show seriousness with regard to the new methodology and explain the way of the opening of clusters which have replaced previous chapters.

“This year can, above all, be the year of clarifying the new methodology and making some important and concrete steps on our part, particularly in the area of the rule of law, but at the same time, the European Union will have to show that it is serious about the new methodology”, said Joksimović on Pink TV.

She has stressed that it remains to be seen how the new methodology will serve the main interest – the acceleration of the European integration process.

“Since the new methodology started being discussed, it has been stressed that our negotiating framework will not be changed, and that the results Serbia has so far achieved in the accession process will be appropriately valorised”, underlined Joksimović.

Joksimović has noted that the new methodology has not be fully elaborated, and that the reason for it is that all countries were preoccupied with the pandemic last year, adding however, that she now expects the European Commission to deliver a road map by the end of February or in early March, where it will define the way the clusters will be opened and clarify whether it will require all chapters from a given cluster to be opened prior to the opening of the cluster itself, or whether there will be a special criteria for the opening of an entire cluster.

“This means that, by the end of the Portuguese presidency which finishes at the end of June this year, a high-level political intergovernmental conference should be held, as provided for under the new methodology, where we would agree on and finally understand the way of the application of the new methodology”, said Joksimović.

She has emphasised that the reform processes are ongoing in all areas, i.e. in the six designated clusters. The previous 35 chapters are now grouped within those six clusters.

Joksimović has explained that the first cluster comprises the political criteria and the rule of law, and that the second is related to internal market – Serbian market convergence with the EU market, monetary and fiscal policy, adding that the third cluster involves competitiveness and inclusive growth which is important for post-COVID recovery, the forth includes leading policies related to economic growth – Green Agenda, digitisation and transport connectivity, while the fifth comprises agriculture and cohesion policy, and the sixth – external policy.

“We are actively working on several clusters, particularly on cluster 3, we are also doing well in cluster 2 which is related to internal market. As regards cluster 4, which involves energy, I think we will have demanding reforms that we will have to implement there. In any case, we are working on the Green Agenda”, said the Minister.

Asked about the adoption the law on same-sex marriage, Joksimović has said that there are practices that are part of the EU and Council of Europe’s “soft law”, adding that she believes Serbia has already demonstrated that it is a mature society.

“Of course, there are topics that will divide the public. This proposed law should be inclusively prepared, undergo a public debate, and that will certainly open discussions. We all have the right to our own opinion, but the essence of the proposed law should be properly explained in terms of how this law will improve the rights of one part of our citizens, so I think this is a topic for a broad public debate and that it is not only the matter of European integration”, said Joksimović.

Source: Tanjug