1. Can you tell me something about Center for European Integration of Belgrade Open School where you’re engaged in as a Project Coordinator?
Center for European Integration (CEI) of the Belgrade Open School (BOS) improves public policy in the process of Serbia’s accession to the European Union through the strengthening of dialogue, partnership-building and education of the social changes in order to adopt European standards and values. The main objectives of the CEI are: strengthening the capacity of public administration for comprehensive reform, efficient performance and understanding of the process of Serbia’s accession to the European Union; strengthening the capacity of civil society organizations active and responsible action in local communities; promotion and encouraging cross-sector partnerships in the creation and implementation of public policy and inform and raising awareness about the necessity of a responsible approach to the process of European integration. CEI activities are: design and implementation of educational programs in the field of European integration; development and promotion of practical policy recommendations for the adoption of European standards and values in Serbia and organizing discussions, conferences and campaigns to encourage public debates in the European integration process.
2. On which project have you participated in CEI?
In all projects where I have participated as part of the CEI, and within other organizations in which I was involved, were focused on the process of European integration. On this occasion I would mark just some of them: “Europe to go” – the promotion of youth information on the European Union and the European integration process; “Speak about the negotiations” – the active participation of civil society in the negotiation process with the EU; “D”evelopment of training programs to the public policy of the EU in the context of European integration”; In the course of Europe” – the contribution of civil society promotion of European values in Belgrade; “Strengthening the administrative capacity of Accession of Serbia to the European Union (SA4EU2)”, “Civil Society in Serbia in the EU integration process”: the adoption of values and the promotion of dialogue (Net2Dialogue), “The European Union is in my community” – a more efficient and rational local development policy in the European integration process, future enlargement of the European Union : The Case of the Western Balkans.
3. Can you tell me about cooperation of your NGO and public institutions?
Cooperation between public institutions with NGOs in Serbia is still considered as an imposed obligation and not a need. In this regard, I can not rate as good, because it all boils down to a form that satisfies (various consultation mechanisms, guidelines for involvement in the decision-making process) without the specific substance and contributions can the civil society with their knowledge and expertise (on in the last stage can influence substantially the change). There is certain progress, but it rather all depends on openness and understanding of individuals at the forefront of public institutions, which is not enough.
4. It appears that in Serbian Parliament there are no anti-European parties. Do you think that it can make European Integration process much easier?
Lack of anti-european parliamentary parties in Serbia can facilitate the process of European integration in terms of the adoption of the necessary legislation to comply with EU legislation. However, on the other hand, declarative support the European integration process, without the essential understanding of the basic aims and values which carries the EU and their implementation in practice does not mean anything. Since now the EU, based on experience from previous enlargements puts more emphasis on implementation and practicing adopted laws, existence of the pro-European Parliament in Serbia is not enough to ease the process of European integration.
5. There are many articles, topics and books about benefits of joining the EU. Can you name five main reasons why to join EU?
I want to leave out as standard cited reasons why Serbia should become part of the EU, as well as “EU has no alternative” phrase. Everything has alternatives, but the question is what is viable alternative. In this regard, relying primarily on the basic idea and values of the EU, which somehow all forgets, I will try to single out three reasons why Serbia should become part of the EU: 1) the rule of law and individual rights (in the broadest sense of the word) – Serbia will be the part of a system that has reached the highest level of civilization and legal development of effective protection of individual rights and the possibility that the laws given rights and achieve in real life; 2) The single market – to become a part of the biggest free market. Goods and services are immeasurable benefits both for individuals and for businesses and 3) strengthening the position in international relations – Serbia as an individual actor is in a precarious position and can hardly reach credibility and influence in the resolving and defending any questions, staying out of the block EU28. On the other hand, support by member states to address the internal economic, security and other issues remains unquestionable.
6. How do you see relations between Russia and EU nowadays?
When it comes to relations between Russia and the EU, we have seen that the beginning of the development of the crisis in the East opens conflict in Ukraine and proportionally deteriorated their relationships by introducing new circuits and various levels of sanctions. As for the larger interests of both sides, it is possible to expect further strained relations, especially considering the last NATO summit and its positioning throughout the conflict.
7. What is your opinion on new “European governement” and new commissioners?
When I look at the composition of the new European Commission, the first thaught to me is this is the strongest political committees so far. Specifically, the new European Commission has entered five former prime ministers, four deputy prime ministers, 19 former ministers, seven former commissioner and eight former members of parliament. It is undisputed that “Junker Commission” has the necessary expertise and experience to deal with the current economic and geopolitical challenges facing the EU, but it remains to be seen whether it will take advantage of it and contribute to further strengthening and integration of the Union.
8. And for the end of this interview, can you recommend us some useful sites where we can find out more about European Integrations and European Union?
If you want to track information from the EU my recommendations are: EurActiv, EUobeserver, European Voice and VoxEurope, as well as the official web portal of the European Union, which will take you to all the institutions and policies. When it comes to home sites there is a much poorer choice, but I would recommend the website of the EU Delegation to Serbia, Serbian EurActiv newsroom and website that I edit “Speak about the negotiations/Progovori o pregovorima”.