Serbia wants to open "several chapters" in 2014

BELGRADE -- Serbia has the ambition to open EU entry talks on several chapters in 2014, and the fulfillment of that objective will depend equally on Belgrade and Brussels.

(Beta, file)
(Beta, file)

This is according to Serbia's Chief Negotiator Tanja Miščević.

It is Serbia's plan to open in 2014, besides Chapter 35 that includes the process of normalization of relations between Belgrade and Priština, Chapters 23 and 24 on the judiciary, fundamental rights, justice, freedom and security, but also some less challenging chapters, Miščević said in an interview to Tanjug.

"If we have a partner relationship, a balance will have to be struck so that we open difficult chapters together with easy ones, so to say, so that the process could advance," Miščević said.

At this moment, Serbia is still far from opening Chapters 23 and 24, as the report resulting from the screening and criteria for opening the chapters are expected in April, she said.

The negotiating process will begin on January 21 with the first intergovernmental conference, and on the very next day the screening for Chapter 35 will commence, when the content of this chapter will be addressed for the first time, she said.

"The issue of normalization of relations between Belgrade and Priština was put in Chapter 35, but neither the EU nor we know what the chapter would include in concrete terms, although the implementation of the agreement and the plan for further normalization of relations between Belgrade and Priština will certainly be in it," Miščević said.

Officials of the European External Action Service will lead negotiations on Chapter 35, while the Serbian negotiating sub-group will be headed by Aleksandar Vulin, the minister without portfolio in charge of Kosovo-Metohija, she said.

“The European side will present all that they deem to be the content of this chapter. On our part, we will present how we see the continuation of the normalization process," Miščević said.

Around 50 screenings lie ahead of Serbia in 2014, then the European Commission's reports on the screening for each chapter will follow, which will contain the criteria for opening each and every chapter, Miščević explained.

"Although we are entering the accession negotiations, the control mechanism stays. The European Commission will continue to issue a progress report in October each year, and the fact that we are no more a third country will mean that the checks will be conducted through negotiations," Miščević said.

When it comes to the financial aspect of the EU entry, the first estimate of Serbia's expenditures during the EU integration process will be done in 2014, she said.

That will be done as part of the national program for adopting the EU Acquis, she said.

"We are also doing that in order to get a clear picture as to how much funds we can earmark from our own budget, and how much funds we will have to request from the EU funds, member states and interested parties," she said.

"For environmental protection, for example, we have a rough sum, but we know that we cannot finance that from the budget. However, the EU is very interested in assisting us in that field, "Miščević said.

Referring to the remarks by euroskeptics that the price of the EU entry will for Serbia be much higher than the benefit, Miščević said that they are not right, as it is the EU's objective to strengthen a candidate country's economy.