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J. Joksimović: Focus on cluster opening

January 05 2022 | Belgrade

J. Joksimović: Focus on cluster opening

Minister of European Integration Jadranka Joksimović has announced that in 2022, the focus will be placed on the opening of the remaining clusters within Serbia’s European integration process, stressing that it is important for the European path of the country that the citizens support the amendment to the Constitution.

Joksimović has told Tanjug that Cluster 3 – Inclusive growth and competitiveness, covering eight chapters, is fully prepared and that all opening benchmarks have been met.

She has added that, at the same time, all other clusters are being prepared, particularly Cluster 5 – Resources, agriculture, cohesion, which covers five important chapters.

“That will be the focus of our work. However, the rule of law and Cluster 1, which we have already opened, are essential for the Member States’ assessment of our progress in this area, and the possibility of opening new clusters for which we are ready will be assessed depending on that progress”, said Joksimović.

In that sense, the Minister has stressed the importance of the referendum scheduled for 16 January, noting that the constitutional amendments on which the citizens will vote would complete the judicial reform, which, according to her, was inadequately conducted in 2009, costing the state and citizens more than EUR 60 million for various claims for damages.

“We are now trying, and I believe we are on the right track, to fix many irregularities and introduce a systemic, social and deep change which will certainly mean that Serbia will be able to stand neck and neck with the most democratic European countries, primarily EU countries, at least regarding judicial independence”, noted Joksimović.

Summarising the results of the Ministry of European Integration in 2021, Joksimović has said that it has been a good year and that the pace of the European integration process has been renewed.

“Having opened Cluster 4 and four new chapters within it related to energy, transport, trans-European networks and environment, we’ve shown that we worked hard”, says Joksimović.

She has added that, nevertheless, if there hadn’t been reforms in the rule of law, this could not have been done.

Joksimović has said that, therefore, the pace has been accelerated on two tracks – the rule of law and cluster preparation.

She has recalled that the European Commission also recommended the opening of Cluster 3, adding that, nonetheless, some Member States considered that it was first necessary to finalise the entire process of constitutional amendments regarding judicial appointments, for which the referendum is scheduled for 16 January.

“It will be vital for our European path that citizens support the amendments to the Constitution, because I highly doubt that anyone is against depolitisation of the possibility to influence the holders of the highest judicial offices – judges and prosecutors”, states the Minister.

Noting that in all public opinion polls conducted in the last decade, the citizens have stated that they expect independent judiciary, a more efficient judiciary and fight against corruption, which is closely related to independent judiciary, Joksimović believes that the citizens will complete that process.

“Not only for the sake of European integration, but really for the sake of the things that citizens expect from that process and see as a concrete benefit for our society”, said Joksimović, recalling that amendments to the Constitution were supported by the Venice Commission and assessed as compliant with the best European practices and standards.

According to her, in any case, the Ministry continues to work on other clusters and other positions, as well.

“But it is important that we maintain the pace that we have renewed and to further accelerate it, because we’ve seen that no one else from the region has so far made any steps except Serbia, which has made an important and huge step”, said Joksimović.

She believes that the opening of Cluster 4 was also a message to Serbia and the region that if you truly conduct the reforms that are politically, technically and administratively demanding, if you organise well, as Serbia has in terms of good coordination and stronger political steering, it will yield results.

Source: Tanjug