It is essential for Serbia to continue with reforms after Brexit

National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia; Photo: Wikimedia Commons

BELGRADE – The results of  the UK’s EU referendum could lead to a slowdown in the EU enlargement process, as the  Member States will focus on the EU itself, but  it is nevertheless crucial that Serbia continues its reforms in order to achieve European standards,  the participants of the panel “What can we expect after the opening of chapter 24 ” said.

Senior Legal Advisor at the OSCE Mission in Serbia Maurizio Salustro said that the European Union has so far had a policy of expansion, but now, due to the decision of British citizens, it may also consider a policy of narrowing.

“Someone in Brussels should minutely consider why it happened. Perhaps this is a result of wrong decisions, because usually in life we reap what we sow, “said Salustro

Salustro deems that a possible halt of the enlargement process is not always a bad thing, because, as he believes, it may have some positive aspects.

As he explained, domestic institutions are sometimes prone to “just tick” point by point and do not consider essential reform legislation.

The head of the regional department of the rule of law in the Western Balkans from the Royal Netherlands Embassy   Onny Jalink said that it was too early to talk about the consequences of the decision the citizens of Great Britain made, but added that it is for the Netherlands essential, when it comes to Serbia’s European integration, to continue reforms in the field the rule of law.

“Reforms in the field of  the rule of law in Serbia will remain in the focus of the Netherlands. These reforms are the hardest, but are essential because they set the foundation of democracy and democracy is required in the European Union, “said Jalink.

She emphasized that it is important, regardless of whether the enlargement process will be slowed down, to continue reforms.

“They are important for the accession process, but they are also of great importance for Serbia’s transition to democracy,” said Jalink.

Director of the Belgrade Center for Security Policy Sonja Stojanović Gajić pointed out that the Brexit means accession of Serbia to the very different EU, because the Member States and the EU institutions will turn to themselves in the next period.

According to her the results of the referendum will help politicians not only in Great Britain but also in other countries to start contemplating on what led to such a turnout.

She added that young people and those who live in large centers and cities voted in favor of the EU, whereas those who live in rural areas voted for Brexit.

“Those who have felt marginalized expressed their distrust in institutions and this will have an impact on other Member States and, therefore, instigate leaders in Member States to engage in debate at home to convince the public that they should remain in the EU.

Stojanović Gajić assessed that the EU enlargement process will be slowed down, there will be more thorough review of progress of Serbia in order to explain to domestic voters not to let anyone but only those well prepared.

“But the framework, procedures and money for our support is still in force and all the reforms that we have been carrying out are going to remain supported,” said the Stojanović Gajić.

Head of OSCE Mission to Serbia Peter Burkhard said that Serbia is an important partner within the European Security Community and the experience of the OSCE in many municipalities throughout Serbia, especially on a project related to combating domestic violence, shows that encouraging citizens to actively participate in a constructive dialogue on security issues is crucial for the successful implementation of reforms.

“Serbia should foster open communication and exchange of information between citizens and the Ministry of Internal Affairs,” said Burkhard.

He added that the performance indicators of the police are absence of crime and disorder, not actions in which police is facing crime as a consequence.

“If we want to include the society in the police reform process, it is necessary to promote a comprehensive debate,” said Burkhard.

He also added that the “Guide through the cooperation on internal affairs in the European Union”, which has been presented in the Mikser House by Belgrade Center for Security Policy, very important in this regard because it provides detailed information on the cooperation of European countries in the field of internal affairs.