DESPITE the radical demands of a group of European parliamentarians, led by Croatian MP Tonino Picula, that Serbia completely suspend negotiations with Brussels if it does not introduce sanctions against Russia, such wording will not be part of the final version of the draft report on the new EU enlargement strategy.
Nevertheless, our country, even according to the compromise amendment that “further accession negotiations will depend on the harmonization of foreign policy”, is actually threatened with “tapping in place”.
As specified by the EP, the proposal does not envisage the termination of negotiations, but rather that Serbia cannot progress on its way to the “27 club” unless it imposes sanctions on Moscow:
– The EU should prioritize the alignment of the candidate countries with the common European foreign policy and continue accession negotiations with Serbia only if it complies with the sanctions and achieves significant progress in reforms related to the enlargement process – the document states.
And if the latest pressures are put aside, Serbia’s European path has not been moving at the speed it should for a long time, and Serbia opened the last cluster 4 in December 2021. The European Commission assessed that our country is ready to open cluster 3 as well, which is , according to earlier announcements, should have been unsealed in December of this year.
The MEPs who are pressuring Serbia to introduce sanctions also demand that all EU financial allocations to Serbia be reviewed, “especially all projects financed under the Economic and Investment Plan for the Western Balkans, in order to ensure that all EU expenditures are fully in line with strategic goals and interests of the EU”. This is a direct warning that Brussels will punish us by turning off the faucets of pre-accession funds and investments if we do not join the sanctions.
The freezing of EU financial aid plans for the Western Balkans in the next seven years, whose share of the cake would also belong to Serbia, could therefore be suspended in accordance with the latest pressures that are coming. What consequences this could have on our country is shown by the data that almost two-thirds of our trade is with EU countries, where almost 70 percent of our investments come from. The EU is the largest donor with more than four billion euros in grants, and many important public facilities, schools, hospitals… were built or renovated with the help of European money. Financial injections are provided through the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance, to help Serbia prepare for membership. In the past seven years, 2.4 billion euros were received from accession funds, while 24,000 of our companies, which employ around 900,000 people, come from EU member states. Data from the Serbian Chamber of Commerce show that in 2021, we sold goods and services worth 13.9 billion euros to Europeans.
The debate on the proposal of the enlargement report should be held on October 13 in the Foreign Affairs Committee. The final version of the draft will take the form of a European Parliament resolution at a vote expected in November.
Lawyer Milan Antonijević explains that the proposal of socialists and democrats in the EP is not binding, but that it speaks of the mood of all countries within the EU when it comes to Russia’s aggression against Ukraine:
– We will see how the discussion will look like. You also have other parliamentary groups that may not have such a harsh attitude.
Strahinja Subotić from the Center for European Policies sees the proposal as the most explicit expression of the EP when it comes to criticism for non-compliance with the EU’s common foreign policy, because sanctions against Russia are an unprecedented topic for the Union, as well as an attempt to, as he says, win us over to their side:
– However, it is important to emphasize that this is a type of advisory resolution.
BILČIK AND NEMAC WITH VUČIĆ
The RAPPORTEUR of the European Parliament for Serbia, Vladimir Bilčik, together with Matjaž Nemec, a member of the Delegation of the EP Committee for Stabilization and Association of EU-Serbia, will meet today in Belgrade with the President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vučić. He will begin his working visit to Belgrade. The mentioned tandem will also meet with the representatives of parliamentary groups in the National Assembly.
This working visit is organized within the dialogue between the European Parliament and the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia.
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