Working meeting held with representatives of EU Delegation to Serbia – Road to European standards expensive, but will pay off
Representatives of the EU Delegation to Serbia from the Sector for European Integration and the Sector for Cooperation
Environmental protection is one of the main strategic goals on which Serbia will have to work in the upcoming period, it was pointed out at the working meeting with representatives of the EU Delegation to Serbia, organized by the Slovenian Business Club, the German-Serbian Chamber of Commerce, the Italian-Serbian Economic Chamber and the Swiss-Serbian Chamber of Commerce, at IN Hotel in Belgrade.
The discussion topics at the event, held on Thursday, January 24, included the progress of Serbia on its path to the EU membership, as well as the possibilities of financing from EU funds in the Republic of Serbia, that is, the support to the improvement of the business and investment climate.
As said, Serbia will need to meet certain environmental standards in the integration process, which entails serious investments in water treatment facilities, the improvement of the quality of air, as well as RES, pointed out the head of the cooperation sector of the EU Delegation to Serbia, Yngve Engstrom.
Head of cooperation sector of the EU Delegation to Serbia Yngve Enstrom
– Serbia needs to set aside 6 to 10 billion euros for water treatment alone in order to meet EU standards. That's a lot of money, but it is an investment that pays off in the long term. So far, Serbia has invested around EUR 50 million together with the EU, and that's what we can do at the moment., Certainly, after joining the EU, Serbia would have much larger funds at its disposal – Engstrom told eKapija.
When it comes to the economic ties of Serbia and the EU, Engstrom's deputy, Mateja Norcic Stamca says that they are strong and that the trade is constantly on the rise.
The figures presented say that Serbia's exports to the EU states amount to 66% of its total exports, that is EUR 9.9 billion, whereas the import from the EU amounts to 62%, that is, EUR 12.115 billion, according to the 2017 data.
– The past year ended with a budget surplus, which should enable increased investments in theory, for example, in infrastructure and education, which are quite needed in our opinion, and which is not reflected in this year's budget. Also, in the upcoming period, we expect the economic growth of Serbia to exceed 4% – Norcic Stamcar told eKapija.
In addition to investments in environmental protection, as well as renewable energy sources, as said, the focus will be on the development of transport, border crossings and the rule of law. As Norcic Stamcar pointed out, the aim of the integration process is not just the accession to the EU, but also the process itself and everything that Serbia accomplishes on that path.
– What jeopardizes the business climate in Serbia are corruption, the administration of justice, organized crime and the freedom of the media, which are the issues that Serbia needs to work on together with the EU in the upcoming period – Norcic Stamcar pointed out and added that the Balkans had returned to the EU agenda in February 2018 with the so-called EU Western Balkans Strategy, which offers a perspective for the region.
By 2025, the EU might have more than the current 27 members, but the pace of the progress depends on individual merits and concrete results of each country, it was said at the meeting.