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News 02 Sep 13

Serbia’s EU Stabilisation Deal Comes Into Force

Serbia’s Stabilisation and Association Agreement, seen as a key step toward EU membership, has come into force, requiring more political reforms so Belgrade can meet Brussels’ standards.

Tanjug
Belgrade

The Stabilisation and Association Agreement, which Serbia signed with the EU five years ago, became active on Sunday as Belgrade made another step towards membership of the European club.

With this, Serbia has now fulfilled all the formal conditions required before it can open EU accession talks.

Tanja Miscevic, the candidate for the post of Serbia's lead negotiator in EU membership talks and the former head of Serbian government’s European Integration Office, explained that because the trade part of the SAA has been in force since 2010, the focus will now be on political reforms.

“The political part of the agreement defines the principles of accession based on European values, preparing the country for potential future membership,” Miscevic told news agency Tanjug on Sunday.

She said that the most important new factor was Belgrade’s obligation to adjust parts of its foreign policy to harmonise them with the common positions of the EU, when relevant.

Brussels and Belgrade will now form bodies to implement the agreement and monitor its implementation; the Stabilisation and Association Council, the Stabilisation and Association Committee and the Stabilisation and Association Parliamentary Committee will all be made up of representatives of the EU and Serbia.

Miscevic said that not much will change in economic relations between Serbia and the EU.

“There are no new deadlines or new funds which will become available through the SAA going into force, this is just a completion of the previous process, and now our association process has evolved into the process of EU accession,” she said.

The commercial liberalisation process that was launched through the implementation of the Interim Trade Agreement between Serbia and the EU will be completed by January 1 next year for all industrial products from the EU and the majority of agricultural products from the EU and Serbia.

Serbia will retain certain customs duty rates for some agricultural products, including corn and wheat production, to protect local producers.

Indirect gains from the implementation of the Interim Trade Agreement are expected to include increased investments, employment, GDP growth and export expansion since EU countries as a whole are both Serbia's major trade partners and its biggest investors.

Serbia signed the SAA in April 2008, along with the Interim Trade Agreement that came into force in February 2010.

The European Parliament ratified the SAA in January 2011, and it was then ratified by all EU member states. The last country to do so was Lithuania in June this year. 

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