European Commissioner for Budget and Human Resources Gunther Oettinger stated that Serbia could expect more money from pre-accession funds from 2021.
He said that the country needed to work on achieving economic growth in order to be a partner in the single market and attract investors.
Reminding that the European Commission had presented the budget framework for the period from 2021 till 2027, Oettinger said that he had “informed Serbian officials of this, so that we would prepare a plan for financial help and money for the pre-accession funds in order for Serbia to carry out the reforms and become a full member of the Union”.
When asked whether Serbia could expect more money from pre-accession funds in the time period from 2021, Oettinger said:
– Yes. I am cooperating closely with my colleagues, Mogherini and Hahn, in order to stabilize the reforms and finance important project which will contribute to the Western Balkans region, amounting to around EUR 1 billion a year, 25% more than now.
He emphasized that the plan didn't exclude the idea and the possibility of Serbia's becoming a member in 2025.
– No, not at all. Membership is related to chapters and negotiations, and once we reach an agreement, we will modernize our plan immediately – Oettinger said.
Commenting on what the biggest challenges for Serbia are when it comes to reaching the full membership status and spending the budget money, Oettinger said that, above all, it was the reaching of European standards: a single market, import-export and competitiveness.
– The meeting of those standards is our primary goal and ambition – he emphasized.
Oettinger, however, said that Serbia met its obligations “more and more”.
– This is a complex job when it comes to achieving competitiveness. Serbia needs to work on economic growth in order to be a partner in our single market and attract investors. Then, there's the acceptance of the values related to the rule of law and good neighborly policy – Oettinger said.
When asked whether it is realistic for Serbia to become a member in 2025 keeping in mind the need to meet these standards, Oettinger emphasized that the year 2025 “is our common ambition, which depends on Serbia's development, but also on the development of the European Union, that is, on the will of both sides”, and added that he believed it was feasible.
– If we look behind us, Serbia has made great progress as a candidate and a lot has been solved and done. If the process accelerated, the year 2025 would be a realistic target – Oettinger believes.
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