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Milan Marković, General Manager, Smurfit Kappa Belgrade

Returning Treated Water to the Danube

Here Milan Marković, General Manager of Smurfit Kappa Belgrade, shares his insights about the company’s legacy and innovative strides in environmental protection Founded in 1921...

Bogdan Gavrilović, Managing Director, WTO Serbia

Transport and Logistics Without Borders

World Transport Overseas is one of the fastest-growing logistics companies in Eastern Europe, with branches in Bulgaria, China, Croatia, Greece, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Serbia,...

Vesna Jovanović, Director, EurologSystem

Connecting Italy and Serbia by Rail

EurologSystem, which is set to commemorate two decades of successful operations in 2025, transports an average of 500,000 tons of goods annually, primarily agricultural...

Branko Milikić, Business Development Director at Halcom Serbia

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Halcom is a leader in the domain of digital banking and banking solutions. This company has spent 30 years enabling the safe and efficient...

Dragana Ašić Ratkovac, Business Manager Consulting & Tax Advisor at Unija Consulting d.o.o. Beograd

Our View of the Tax World and What’s Important

The success of companies in today’s world depends, among other things, on the ability to adapt to constant amendments to tax laws. My experience...

Florian Bieber, Professor of Southeast European History and Politics and Director of the Centre for Southeast European Studies at the University of Graz

No Clear Plan to Make Enlargement Work

There is no doubt that EU candidate status for Ukraine and Moldova has changed the dynamic of integration into the Union. Not only are there now 10 potential new members – if we also include Turkey – but Ukraine is a country that is not just twice the size of the Western Balkans, but also makes a much more enthusiastic claim for membership.

I would say that the effects for the Western Balkans have so far been positive. Firstly, it forces the EU leadership to reconsider the current enlargement process. While it is clear that there will be no shortcut to membership for Ukraine, the EU is willing to think much more creatively about the process than it has for a long time. This can only benefit the Western Balkans, as the region is not going anywhere under the current dynamics. There is, however, no clear, unified plan of how to make enlargement work. Overall, there are two ideas that have been gaining support. The first is the notion of a timeline, such as the year 2030 that was mentioned by Charles Michel.

However, if this is just a talking point without foundation, it is meaningless. After all, former Commission president Juncker launched the year 2025 for Montenegro and Serbia not that long ago, and today that has been forgotten and rendered irrelevant. Thus, to make such a date useful, it has to be based on a broad EU commitment to enable the countries to join by that date if they are ready. This also entails establishing a clear timeline in order for governments to understand precisely what they have to do to complete the necessary steps to join by that date.

Although there is no quick path to EU membership for Ukraine, the EU is now open to considering a more innovative approach to the accession process than it has been for a while

Let’s keep in mind that 2030 is not as far away as it sounds. To join, negotiations have to be completed around two years earlier, which means that accession talks need to be completed by 2028, i.e., five years from now. This means that many laws and other decisions have to be taken and countries have to show a track record. This will not be easy and will require a much more tightly managed process, one that will also enable the public to see which country is lagging where and why.

A second idea that has been gaining support is that of joining the EU in stages, as proposed by the European Policy Centre in Belgrade and the Centre for European Policy Studies in Brussels. The idea here is that a country joins the EU in several stages. It initially receives some benefits prior to joining, such as access to EU funds and more inclusion in EU institutions, albeit without voting rights. Then, once it joins, there are some limitations that are only lifted after a transition period. In brief, it suggests a stepby- step process, rather than seeing the EU as being in or out. A number of EU governments, such as those of Austria and France, seem to like the idea, but it is unclear if it can gain the full support of the majority of EU member states. It certainly makes sense to combine these two ideas and create a new dynamic for enlargement.

Comment by Zoran Panovic

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German Voters Dominate, Malta Least Represented in Upcoming European Parliament Elections

As the 2024 European Parliament elections draw near, set to take place from 6 to 9 June, Eurostat has...

Regional Creative Network Established in Belgrade

In an initiative led by the National Platform "Serbia Creates" and the Ložionica Center, the first gathering of creative...

Chile to Install World’s Largest Astronomy Camera 

Chile is set to install the world's largest astronomy camera atop Cerro Pachón in the Coquimbo region, on the...

Montenegro Earns €17 Million from Toll Roads in Two Years

Montenegro has generated €17 million in toll revenue from the Bar-Boljare-Smokovac-Mateševo motorway in two years Since the opening of the...

John Lennon’s Acoustic Guitar Sells for Over $2.8 Million

An acoustic guitar once played by John Lennon at the height of The Beatles' fame has sold at auction...
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