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Belgrade, 5 May 2014
Statement by Commissioner Štefan Füle to the media after meeting with Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić
"It is a pleasure to be back in Serbia, only one week after High Representative Catherine Ashton visited Belgrade. Take these visits as coordinated efforts of both of us to send a very clear message to the Serbian authorities about our high expectations from them to deliver on this new chapter of the Serbian history we started to write together - the European chapter.
This visit is different to any other before. While in the past on many occasions we have been talking about intentions, plans, conditions, this is for the first time we talk business: about concrete chapters and how to deliver benefits of the negotiation process to the citizens of Serbia.
I have also congratulated the Prime Minister for a very coherent, pro-European team he put together. I congratulated him for the strong mandate he received from the voters in the last parliamentary elections.
While talking business - let me describe the state of play of the accession process: we advance with the screening process - screening on 7 chapters was already concluded and with 7 more we are at various stages of the screening. I assured the Prime Minister and the members of his government that we will be able to open screening of 4 more chapters so that by the end of the Greek EU Presidency (this June) we should have 18 chapters either already screened or being part of the screening process. This is a good reflection of the excellent work which has not stopped during the election campaign and it is an important example. This impressive number proves the strong administrative capacity and political will in Serbia to deliver on reforms.
There are three pillars of what we are focusing on at this stage of the process and this is what we have just discussed with the Prime Minister and his team, as well as future steps to be undertaken:
1) chapters 23, 24: the expectation is that still during the current Greek EU Presidency Serbia will be invited to present Action Plans on both chapters. We have discussed how to interact so that later this year Serbia can deliver these Action Plans so that we can open these chapters soon at the beginning of 2015.
2) within the framework of "fundamentals first" we have also discussed the economic governance which is the new approach of the Commission to strengthen the competitiveness of the Serbian economy not only at the time of Serbia's EU entry but already at this stage for the benefit of the people.
3) to continue the discussion C. Ashton had here: we talked about the implementation of agreements reached in the political dialogue between Pristina and Belgrade and its relation with the specific Chapter 35.
Our consultation here have shown that full compatibility of us focusing on economic reforms, on issues which would have not only long-term impact but also short-term positive impact on the situation of ordinary citizens.
We share the same goal - to share benefits of the accession process throughout that process and not only at its end.
It doesn't take any importance from the quality of the alignment with the EU acquis but it underlines that this quality of alignment needs to be seen as contributing to the improvement of the situation on the ground."