Bad news for Euro pessimists! Serbia is about to open four new chapters in the negotiation accession process by July 1st. Namely, issues related to corporate law, intellectual property, foreign economic relations and customs are about to be discussed by the Serbian and the EU officials in the following months in order to adapt them to the requirements of the EU’s unified market and economic standards.
According to the Head of Negotiating Team for Accession of the Republic of Serbia to the EU, Mrs. Tanja Miščević, Serbia’s main duty in the following months is to demonstrate to the EU that it is capable of fully implementing the standards adopted from EU legislation. Such capacity will further enable quicker integration and swift closing of these opened negotiation chapters. Fortunately, it seems that Serbia did not waste much time in adoption of the needed measures, in these aspects of negotiations, at least. As Mrs. Miščević stated, the matter of opening and closing of Chapter 30 revolved around Serbia’s admission to the World Trade Organization which has already been raised.
More specifically, Chapter 30 revolves around foreign economic relations, membership in the WTO, acceptance of all bilateral trade agreements with third countries and issues of EU humanitarian aid provided to developing countries. As EU is an integrated market and one of the most important players in the international trade arena, adequate implementation of the relevant rules is of the highest importance for all Candidate Countries. The obvious benefit of Serbian accession to the EU derives mostly from the fact that it will then be able to use all possibilities existing under numerous bilateral and multilateral trade and investment agreements the EU has entered into.
Serbian road to the WTO has been long and uncertain so far. Serbia struggled for long with demand for legal continuity based on the fact that the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was a member of the GATT. This is important, especially knowing that all former GATT members automatically became the members of the WTO, upon its creation in 1994. Nevertheless, it is still working on its accession and is facing multiple phases of this integration procedure. WTO Members had a chance to inquire into all aspects of the relevant Serbian legislation and in the past period Serbia has been responding to such inquires. As published by the Serbian Chamber of Commerce (PKS), there are not many discrepancies between our regulations and the legislation of Member Countries. As stated by the WTO officials, the Republic of Serbia has concluded 11 bilateral negotiations so far and it was urged to submit the remaining reports – an updated Legislative Action Plan and updated Agriculture Supporting Tables.
After closing bilateral negotiations, the working group in charge of Serbia’s accession will review the compliance of Serbian legislation in the relevant fields in order to render the decision on the membership.
As optimistic as we could be, we cannot neglect the fact that the real reason for slowing down of the accession to the WTO is conditioned upon acceptance of the modification of the legislation on GMOs. Therefore, and with the best efforts applied, it seems that closing of Chapter 30 might still take a while.
By Milan Samardzic, Partner, and Katarina Grga, Associate, SOG / Samardzic, Oreski & Grbovic