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THE PARIS SUMMIT BRINGS GOOD NEWS: THE EU STILL SUPPORTS THE ENLARGEMENT

12.07.2016

The public debate under the name “After the Paris Summit EU and the Western Balkans“ was held on Monday, 11th july 2016, in the organization of European Movement in Serbia and the EU Info Center Belgrade (EUIC). The debate is part of a serie “European talks“ aiming at starting the discussion on major initiatives, resolutions and agreements with the Summit. The speakers, together with interested citizens, students and representatives of the civil society, discussed about the challenges the EU is currently facing, which have consequences for the candidate countries and future candidates.


The Ambassador of the French Republic in Serbia, Christine Moro, assessed that the Paris Summit, which represents the continuity of the 2014 Berlin process, was held at a special moment – immediately after the referendum in the UK, and at the time when the green light for the opening of chapters 23 and 24 of the accession negotiations of Serbia with the EU was awaited.


“It was clearly announced at the Summit that the Brexit will not affect the EU enlargement process“, wanted to underline Moro and she added that the Summit was a moment of optimism and encouragement, a joint effort of EU institutions but also of Germany and Austria (as previous hosts of the Summit), and governments in the region. She stressed that the development of cooperation between the countries in the region and realization of concrete projects was also crucial for the EU itself. 

 

On the other side, the Head of EU Delegation in Serbia, Michael Davenport has pointed out that the Berlin process continued work and effort initiated at previous meetings regarding the European perspective of the Western Balkans. He underlined that the summit provided an important additional impetus to the process of enlargement, at a time when we talk about fatigue and leaving the United Kingdom.

 

When it comes to Serbia, Davenport pointed out that the Summit was an opportunity to improve the process of accession by encouraging the opening of new chapters in the negotiations. He recalled that last year in Vienna, the EU established one billion euros for investments in transport communications in the region, the first 200 million intended for ten projects – five in the energy sector and five in the field of transport.


“Every country in the region will benefit from the improvement of infrastructures“, underlined Davenport and he added that an important step towards the strengthening of regional cooperation when it comes to traffic and electricity, and even the possible establishment of a common electricity market, was made at the Summit.


Marina Jovićević, assistant in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, recalled that in the segment of regional cooperation, concrete contributions and the formats of contribution are the key, because it is an effective way to solve the problem. She stressed that a good political message was send from Paris about giving the green light for the opening of chapters 23 and 24, assessing that it might have taken longer if there had not been the Summit.


According to her, the most important message from the Summit is that “the EU still supports the enlargement“. She also said that the greatest achievement of the Paris Summit is the decision for the establishment of the Regional Office for Youth, their work will benefit young people in the region as it will facilitate mobility of young people, education and exchange programs.

 

In her speech, Jelica Minić, President of the Forum for International Relation EMinS, referred to the role and participation of civil society in the Berlin process which grew from Berlin via Vienna to Paris. She underlined that “the civil society made a breakthrough at the Summit“ and pointed out that it held several meetings, citing the Civil Forum, Youth forum, as well as a business forum where participants were representatives of chambers of commerce from the region and companies from European countries. She noted that the theme of this year’s summit were migration, bilateral cooperation, youth, climate change and good governance. These issues were discussed by representatives of think tank organizations, environmental organizations, youth organizations and others.

 

These meetings produced a number of mechanisms that facilitate the enlargement process and encourages the announcement of the integration of some sectors so that our common path to the EU is easier and faster, assessed Minić. She noted that all the solutions and decisions made are the result of many years of cooperation in the region and show the work of regional initiatives. 

By answering to the questions of the audience, the debate participants agreed that the Summit had a crucial importance for the Western Balkans and they are expecting a successful continuation of European integration in this part of Europe, in particular through the said regional cooperation.


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