Head of the EU Delegation in Belgrade Sem Fabrizi said that Serbia had only begun its rule of law reform, adding that freedom of media, independent and efficient judiciary and fight against corruption required stronger political resolve.
Rule of law is the basic essence of the EU, but reforms should be implemented not for Union’s, but for the sake of citizens, said Fabrizi during the conference “Investing in Western Balkans’ future” organised by the European Movement in Serbia and the International European Movement.
Reforms require a wide engagement from the Government, opposition, Parliament, NGOs, Fabrizi said, noting that Serbia is moving closer to the EU although, he added “perhaps not at a desired pace, but it nonetheless produces results.”
The EU has been helping Serbia to implement reforms for the past 15 years, he said, through grants worth EUR3 billion among other things.
In the period 2009-2016, Serbia has tripled its exports to the EU, from EUR3.2 to EUR8.8 billion. Over past 15 years, EU-based companies have invested EUR15 billion in Serbia, employing nearly 2,000 people, Fabrizi said.
The EU should be made more visible for the citizens of Serbia, Fabrizi said, adding that visibility is raised once the results are achieved.
Gordana Lazarevic of the European Movement in Serbia said that in Serbia, both the Government and the opposition were pro EU, unlike citizens whose support for the EU was weakening.
“EU integration is no longer a thing of social cohesion that once brought us together. This is a huge challenge for the civil society. The countries in the region fail to see what the civil sector in the EU is doing; our citizens do not see it as something that makes their lives more secure,” Gordana Lazarevic said.
Nenad Djurdjevic of Serbian Chamber of Commerce said that Serbia, in order to become an EU member, had to develop a strong economy, able to stand competition in the European market.
“We expect that the membership in the EU will improve the quality of life, boost economic growth and create more high quality jobs,” Djurdjevic said.