EU commissioner: Agreement to open new chapters next week

EU Commissioner Johannes Hahn said Monday he expects the EU to next week to reach agreement on the opening of new chapters in Serbia's accession negotiations.

Source: Beta, Tanjug

Hahn, who is in charge of EU's neighborhood policy and enlargement negotiations, said he was greatly optimistic that new chapters can be opened.

"We will probably have a meeting next week where we will agree on that and declare it," Hahn said during a joint news conference in Belgrade with Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic.

"Both next week and next year," was Hahn response when journalists asked whether more chapters would be opened next week.

"I think that next week we can open more than one chapter," he said, and added that "two or three could be opened, which would lead us into a new phase of the negotiation process."

When reporters asked Vucic how many chapters would be opened, he said chapter 5 on public procurement would certainly be opened, while "full agreement" in the EU was still lacking on chapters 24 and 26."

"They want to see if they can get something more from Serbia and it depends on that whether the chapters will be (opened) now or later," said Vucic.

Talks about this will continue, he added, noting that this concerns "also what is coming from Croatia, and the issue of relations between Belgrade and Pristina."

Vucic then remarked that Serbia "will not give up on its national and state interests in order for somebody to open chapters."

Earlier today, Vucic said that by signing a contract with the European Commission Serbia received an 80 million euro "gift from the EU."

The Serbian government and the European Commission signed the first contract worth 80 million euros for the financing of public administration reform in Serbia through sector budget support, in accordance with the rules of the new instrument for pre-accession assistance IPA2.

"You will see these 80 million euros directly see in the roads, hospitals and everything that we do in our country. Without an effective public administration, without you changing yourselves, it will be difficult to have results in the future," Vucic said after the signing, attended also by Hahn.

Vucic said the grant was "a huge amount of money" that Serbia would take advantage of "in the best possible way," and added, "we must change ourselves in order for the results to be sustainable."

Vucic thanked the EU and its taxpayers for the assistance, and said that regardless of the problems that exist in the EU, Serbia has set its direction and is "a reliable and loyal partner that the EU can count on."

Serbia can count on the EU because we are in the same boat and we need to work together, Hahn said after the contract was signed.

According to him, for Serbia, "there is no alternative" to the European path. The EU official noted that EU member states accounted for two thirds of Serbia's trade.

"This shows how strong the ties are, and we have to work to improve them further on - we need support from the citizens of both Serbia and the EU," Hahn said.

EU support for Serbia's public administration reform is very important, but the effect will not be immediately visible, he said.

"In the medium and long term, it is a strong indispensable contribution of the EU towards aligning the public administration of Serbia with European standards," he said.


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