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J. Joksimović: I expect progress during French presidency

December 15 2021 | Belgrade

J. Joksimović: I expect progress during French presidency

Minister of European Integration Jadranka Joksimović has stated today that she expects that the Western Balkans and enlargement will remain high on the agenda during the French EU Council presidency which starts on 1 January, and that Serbia will get the support necessary for the opening of clusters 3 in the first half of 2022.

Joksimović has told Tanjug that the draft priorities of the French presidency note that the Western Balkans and the enlargement process will not be neglected or forgotten.

“We’ve been hearing for quite long that the elections are coming in France and that the enlargement policy is unpopular, which may be true, but France has never dismissed the Western Balkans and enlargement, on the contrary – it has kept the Western Balkans high on the agenda in its draft priorities.

She has stressed that it is important that France, as the initiator of the new enlargement methodology, has strongly supported Serbia in the opening of the cluster, recognising that Serbia has been the only candidate country that immediately accepted the idea of a new way of EU accession.

“We haven’t complained that the rules of the game changed in the middle of the process, when we had more than a half of opened chapters under the old methodology, on the contrary – we have actively entered the new process fully prepared, even raising the enthusiasm of the EU to follow what we have done and valorise it in the right way”, said Joksimović.

She has recalled that, the French Minister of State for European Affairs, Clément Beaune, spoke affirmatively about Serbia in Brussels, with the expectations that the reforms in certain areas be continued.

“I believe that, in the second half of the French Presidency which ends on 30 June, Serbia will get the support for the opening of Cluster 3”, said Joksimović.

The Minister also expects that Serbia will receive full support for the opening of Cluster 3, because it will step up the reforms which will in part be completed with the referendum scheduled for 16 January. She has further stressed that it is important for the citizens to support the constitutional amendments that will contribute to raising the level of independence and efficiency of the judiciary.

“We mustn’t forget foreign investors that always look whether legal security is at a high level and in line with the highest European standards. When we complete that process and adopt a whole set of laws that will help implement the new provisions of the Constitution, which will be agreed with the Venice Commission, I believe we will have full support for the opening of Cluster 3”, noted Joksimović.

She has added that many EU Member States have supported the opening of Cluster 3 with Serbia, but that some of them believe the process of constitutional reforms should be completed first, after which they will be ready to extend their support.

Joksimović has stated that Serbia is also preparing other clusters for opening, namely Cluster 5 – Resources, agriculture and cohesion, which makes one whole with clusters 3 and 4.

“We have approached this process in an analytical way, not only to prepare what is the easiest, but also to define a sustainable reform agenda which makes a whole and can be functional, and I believe that the EU has recognised that and supports the plan we have presented”, said Joksimović.

She has underlined the utmost importance of the opening of Cluster 4 and has thanked Slovenia, which managed to keep the enlargement policy and the Western Balkans as one of the leading topics of its presidency even in an atmosphere that was somewhat unfavourable for enlargement.

According to her, during the Slovenian presidency, Serbia managed to invigorate the accession process and its dynamism and open Cluster 4 which covers important sector policies and topics such as transport, energy, environment and trans-European networks.

“This is vital for all EU citizens, and particularly for the citizens of Serbia: to adopt not only standards but also everything that will lead us deeper into those areas in the EU, and to enter the current of change on time, to not stand on the side as things are changing, but, together with the EU, in strategic partnership and with the financial support that will be available to us, to achieve important and huge goals that are demanding, expensive and require the engagement of the entire society”, concluded Joksimović.

Source: Tanjug