EU Commissioner for European Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn said this Monday that the European Union had set aside EUR 41 million for Serbia, primarily to support the rule of law and help make the judiciary independent and more efficient, thereby providing legal security important for the arrival of investors.
Serbian Minister of European Integration Jadranka Joksimovic and the head of the EU delegation to Serbia, Sem Fabrizi, signed an agreement on the implementation of the Action IPA Program for Serbia in the amount of EUR 41,177,139 in the presence of Johannes Hahn and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic.
Vucic welcomed the signing of the agreement and pointed out that the EU was the biggest and most important donor in Serbia.
After the meeting with Vucic, Hahn told the press that he was happy to have been able to attend the signing of the program. He said that the EU had set aside money meant primarily to support the reform of the rule of law in Serbia, the strengthening of the public administration and the harmonization with European values, which, as he said, need to be accepted by the society as a whole.
As he clarified, of the whole sum, EUR 26 million is meant to support the Serbian judiciary, in order to have a more efficient administration of justice and a more independent judiciary. Hahn also said that the money would be used to improve the working conditions for employees within the judiciary on the whole and to centralize the handling of court cases, along with establishing new departments for the purpose in Novi Sad.
Support will be provided to the State Prosecutorial Council and the High Court Council in order to make their operations more efficient and transparent, Hahn said.
It is obvious that the rule of law is at the very core of Serbia's negotiations with the EU and that it will decide the speed of the accession to the EU, Hahn says. The quality of the judiciary and legal certainty, as he said, are also important for investors looking to come to Serbia and create new jobs and provide a better perspective for people.
Hahn said that he would discuss those issues with Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic so that there would be an improvement in certain segments and he highlighted as the topics of the conversation the issue of amendments to the Constitution in the field of judiciary, as well as the creation of an environment in Serbia allowing for a full freedom of expression without interference.
– We welcome the prime minister's encouraging signals towards the preparation of the Media Strategy – Hahn added.
He said that the aid was a reflection of the support to Serbia.
– This EUR 41 million is not much. It is a small part of the financial aid that the EU provides for Serbia and is a reflection of our strong determination to fully support Serbia in its European integration process – Hahn said
The commissioner pointed out that Serbia got around EUR 200 million aid from the EU every year.