BELGRADE – The tone of the report of the European Commission on Serbia will be similar to the previous one, said the Head of the Delegation of the European Union (EU) in Belgrade Michael Davenport behind closed doors in Brussels, to the members of the Working Group on EU enlargement, adding that Russia’s “soft power”in Serbia is far greater than before, reports Deutsche Welle Radio.
Referring to a confidential document of the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Deutsche Welle says that Davenport, noting that the media presence of Moscow in Serbia is “very big”, said that the EU should not only oppose it, but also to tell “a better story”.
When asked by German representative how the state of media will be treated in the progress report, Davenport said that he expects that this part of the report is similar to last year’s, with the amendment of the difficulties in the implementation of media reforms.
As significant deficiencies, Davenport said that the Action Plan for National Minorities has not been fully implemented, that there is no state prosecutor for war crimes and incomplete cooperation with the Hague tribunal.
Regarding the reforms in the field of law, Davenport said that he does not doubt the competence of the new Serbian Minister of Justice Nela Kuburovic, but that is not certain she would receive “political support” for serious reforms, particularly for amending the Constitution.
To make the Brussels agreement between Belgrade and Pristina applicable, the Constitution should not say that Kosovo is a part of Serbia.
“Although the Constitutional Court did not comment on the Brussels agreement, it is clear that it is unconstitutional. This obviously must be resolved by the end of 2017 and this is one of the tasks that make more difficult the position of the mandate,” said for Serbian daily “Blic” Vladimir Petrov, a professor of Constitutitional Law.
By the time of the entry to the EU Serbia will have to change its supreme legal act at least twice, and to do so it needs a two-thirds majority in Parliament and more than 50 percent turnout in the referendum.
“At the end of the accession process an integrative clause will be introduced in the Constitution, which provides that laws adopted in Brussels automatically apply in Serbia. Also, the supreme legal act should have reference to voting of the citizens of Serbia for the European Parliament, but also voting of the foreigners residing in Serbia for local authorities,” said for “Blic” dr. Vladimir Medjak, legal adviser in the negotiating team for EU accession in the Government of Serbia.
Hidden sanctions: Davenport says collection of fees for entry into the EU does not mean return of visas
The European Commission’s proposal to introduce a fee for entry into the Schengen area does not mean the return of visas, said the head of the EU Delegation in Serbia.
“It would be early to comment on it because we have not had received a specific proposal,”said Davenport to reporters in the Serbian parliament during a rally on the pre-accession funds.
According to European media, the European Commission will later this year present a plan of regulations for information and permits travel in the EU, which would affect all those who travel without visas to one of 26 member states of the Schengen area, and France and Germany support the system such as the one US has – the visitors would have to apply via the Internet for permission to enter and pay a fee.
Davenport said that this is a proposal that is being adopted for the sake of “security and border security” and that the proposal that the European Commission is yet to formally present “has nothing to do with the visa regime”.
To the remark that this would make it difficult to enter the Schengen area because it would increase costs, Davenport said that it is too early to comment on the proposal.