EURACTIV SERBIA PANEL IN BRUSSELS: Bilčik - Serbia's European path is based on reality
Foto: YouTube/EURACTIV Partner Content

EURACTIV SERBIA PANEL IN BRUSSELS: Bilčik - Serbia's European path is based on reality

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"The European Union is once again planning its enlargement. The European Council had a meeting, and there were also morning meetings with Member States with which we discussed enlargement, which is part of the high policy plan," Vladimir Bilčik tells EURACTIV.

Before the start of the panel discussion "Yes, but...": The vision of Serbia’s future in the EU”, organized by EURACTIV Serbia and held in Brussels on Tuesday, July 4, one of the panellists, Vladimir Bilčik, a Member of the European Parliament and the European Parliament’s rapporteur for Serbia, spoke for EURACTIV.

Apart from Bilčik, other panellists included Tanja Miščević, the Serbian Minister for European Integration and Gert Jan Koopman, Director-General of the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations (DG NEAR), while the opening address was given by Ana Brnabić, Prime Minister of the Republic Serbia.

foto: Euractiv, Bogna Więch-Krupska

Two months have passed since the adoption of the European Commission's annual report on Serbia. The report was “balanced and realistic”, says Bilčik.

"It is realistic, but a lot needs to be done. I think it is realistic because enlargement is again something that the European Union is planning to do. We had a meeting of the EU Council and morning meetings with the Member States with whom we discussed enlargement. Enlargement has been part of the EU’s high policy agenda since the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Significant changes have happened and we have new candidates: Ukraine, Moldova and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Also, Brussels is paying much more attention to enlargement. In this respect, the European Union is currently dealing with enlargement and the accession process in a way that it has not been dealing with for many years. And that's good news," Bičik said for EURACTIV.

On the other hand, as the EP rapporteur says, a lot still needs to be done by the candidate countries, including Serbia.

"Here, it is crucial to see how we can reduce tensions in the north of Kosovo because the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue is one of the key things for the accession progress. It is also important how Serbia can move forward with reforms. Political uncertainty in the country does not help. Elections have been announced, but we don't know when they are going to be held. In this sense, the government and the National Parliament cannot focus on crucial reforms. Thirdly, there is also the issue of harmonizing foreign policy. Serbia can and should do much more in this segment and we can discuss this issue in more detail, but I think everyone understands why this is important.

Still, I see enlargement as a realistic goal, a realistic task. I see that the EU is ready to commit and I hope that Serbia is also ready to commit to resolving these problems," explains Bilčik.

foto: Euractiv, Bogna Więch-Krupska

Regarding Serbia's progress on its European path, a member of the European Parliament believes that "there is some progress made in the judiciary segment".

"It is important that the reforms were adopted, while the referendum on constitutional changes from last year is also very important. What we need to see is the implementation of these changes. The judiciary is one area where progress is evident. I hope that there can be progress in matters related to the media as well. Free, independent and quality media are an important pillar of democracy. I know that the government has started working on several laws that are important to this issue and they need to continue with that work. It would be good to see progress in working towards free and independent media and I think there is still a lot of room for that. That's important," said Bilčik.

"We appreciate Serbia aligning with the visa policy. It has been done well, especially when it comes to cooperation on the issue of migration. At the same time, I must say, a lot still needs to be done concerning foreign security policy.

The Belgrade-Pristina dialogue is one of the crucial things. I think that Serbia's role was constructive and it is important for the country to maintain that role. The ball is now in Pristina's court in terms of reducing tensions and the political situation in the north. New elections should be held, but Belgrade should also play its role in that. So should the Serbs in the north play their role, that is go back to working for state institutions and vote. I hope this is something we can help resolve," adds Bilčik.

1 / 14 Foto: Euractiv, Bogna Więch-Krupska

Commenting on the EURACTIV Serbia panel, where he was one of the participants, Bilčik said that it was an excellent platform for open discussion.

"I'm glad to see the Prime Minister here. I think it's important that Serbia engages here, in Brussels. I'm also glad that Minister Miščević is here. You have a strong delegation and I just want us to have an open exchange of opinions. We may not agree on every issue, but this is the way we can ensure that things move forward. A certain level of disagreement is always healthy and it is good that the discussion is taking place here. Serbia is present in Brussels and even with this public event we can ensure the country’s progress on its path to the EU ", he concluded.

You can watch a video recording of the entire panel discussion here:


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