EU Strategy For The Western Balkans

EU Strategy For The Western Balkans Sem Fabrizi

EU Ambassador H.E. Sem Fabrizi presented the new EU Western Balkans Strategy to the Foreign Investors Council (FIC) members in Envoy Conference Center. The FIC members had an exclusive opportunity to hear firsthand what steps Serbia needs to take to complete the accession process in a 2025 perspective.

In her introductory speech, FIC Vice President Ingeborg Øfsthus reminded that “The Foreign Investors Council strongly supports Serbia’s EU accession process as it is a perfect mechanism to increase the competitiveness of the economy. During negotiations, the candidate country needs to conduct comprehensive reforms and raise the administrative capacity to implement regulations, which is one of the key problems in Serbia today. The economy needs to modernise so that it has the strength to sustain competitive pressure at the end of the accession process. These are all great challenges, and we in FIC can help address them, as 74% of our members come from EU with the knowledge and the strength to support the accession process”, concluded VP Øfsthus.

During his presentation, H.E. EU Ambassador Sem Fabrizi conveyed that Serbia and Montenegro are the only two countries in the region with which accession talks are already underway. However, “this perspective will ultimately depend on the strong political will, the delivery of real and sustained reforms, and definitive solutions to disputes with neighbours”. He also highlighted that the Strategy clearly spells out that the EU door is open to further accession when the individual countries have met the criteria. ”Credible enlargement perspective requires sustained efforts and irreversible reforms. Progress along the European path is an objective and merit-based process. Serbia’s EU path is in the national and state interest of Serbia”, concluded H.E. EU Ambassador.

The strategy also spells out the priorities and areas of joint reinforced cooperation, addressing the specific challenges the Western Balkans face, in particular, the need for fundamental reforms and good neighbourly relations. It also sets out an Action Plan with six concrete flagship initiatives targeting specific areas of common interest: the rule of law, security and migration, socio-economic development, transport and energy connectivity, digital agenda, reconciliation and good neighbourly relations. Concrete actions in these areas are foreseen in the period between 2018 and 2020. After the presentation, FIC members had the opportunity to provide comments and pose questions to the EU Ambassador and thus receive valuable firsthand information.