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News 09 Jun 15

Serbia May Join EU in Decade, Summit Hears

Serbia could become a member of the European Union in ten years, an economist said at the 15th Economic Summit in Belgrade.

Sasa Dragojlo
BIRN
Belgrade

         15th Economic Summit in Belgrade | Photo by Beta

The opening of Serbia’s membership negotiations with the EU, the importance of regional cooperation and the need to make economic adjustments on the path to the EU dominated discussion at the 15th Economic Summit in Belgrade on June 8.

“Based on its economic parameters, Serbia could be a member of the European Union in ten years,” Dusan Reljic, head of the Brussels office of the German Institute for International Relations and Security, said.

David McAllister, the European Parliament Rapporteur for Serbia, said Serbia had made huge progress and expressed the hope that the first chapters in Serbia’s negotiating process with the EU would be opened this year.

“The countries of the Western Balkans have a clear European perspective. Serbia is on a good path towards the EU, but how long will it take, it depends on the speed with which it implements its obligations,” McAllister said, stressing the importance of achieving more progress in the economy, rule of law, regional cooperation and the Kosovo issue.

Vladimir Gligorov, professor of the Vienna Institute for International Economic Studies, said the private sector in Serbia remained uncompetitive, and another problem was that the rate of employment in the private sector is lower than it needs to be.

Serbia declined on the World Bank list

A World Bank report on bussines conditions “Doing Business 2015”, ranked  Serbia 91st out of 189 countries.  That’s a fall compared with the previous year when Serbia was ranked on position 77.  In the terms of region, Serbia is beter ranked than Bosnia and Herzegovina, but worse than other countries.

According to the latest report of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the economic growth of the Western Balkan countries will amount to 2.3 percent in 2015.

 

“Fiscal adjustment in Serbia and the Balkan countries will last from five to 10 years, so these countries cannot expect high rates of economic growth, which in the next decade will range between 2 and 2.5 per cent,” Gligorov predicted.

Zorana Mihajlovic, Serbia's Minister of Construction, Transport and Infrastructure, said regional cooperation was very important for Serbia’s on its path to the EU.

Serbia and other countries in the region wanted to talk with EU representatives on how to gain European support for funding of transport corridors across the Western Balkans.

“We want to build transport networks across the Western Balkans. Each investment is important for economic growth and can bring us stability and a regional as well as a European future, which is the goal of countries in the region,” Mihajlovic said.

The European Council granted Serbia membership candidate status on March 1, 2012. In June 2013, the EU decided to open accession negotiations, but no chapters have yet been opened.

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