Emanuele Giaufret, the head of the EU Delegation and EU ambassador to Serbia, told the latest edition of the Nedeljnik weekly that Serbia’s citizens “will make their final choice when the time comes” and that he believes they will choose “a progressive, modern and democratic Serbia, which will take its place in a strong EU, strengthening [the Union] further.”
“In the meantime, [Serbia’s] citizens have the right to know what joining the EU will bring them. Events like Opportunity Week serve just this purpose. However, the benefits of euro-integrations exceed money. The true gain for the people of Serbia are the results of reforms, such as cleaner air, cleaner water, better public administration, a high level of consumer protection, better infrastructure, product security, the protection of cultural heritage – to name a few,” Giaufret said, commenting on the polls regarding the Serbian public’s attitude toward the EU.
The ambassador explained that the goal of EU Opportunity Week, which took place in May, was precisely to provide a comprehensive overview of all EU programs available to people in Serbia.
“We presented [the programs] and explained how people could apply. Obviously, the EU is not some big ATM from which one can simply draw money. All of this has a very clear goal: joining the EU. And that is the greatest opportunity of all. An opportunity for both Serbia and the EU,” Giaufret said.
He recalled that, over the past few years, the EU has awarded an average of EUR400 million annually to various pre-accession funds in Serbia, and stressed that these are non-refundable grants, not lines of credit. In addition, Giaufret explained, the EU also offers affordable loans through the European Investment Bank.
Asked about the alignment of Serbia’s foreign policy with that of the EU, the ambassador stated that the matter is essential to Serbia’s progress toward EU membership.
“In light of Russia’s aggression [against Ukraine], foreign policy has become increasingly important and we want to count on Serbia as a true partner – which entails the progressive alignment with the EU’s foreign policy. Foreign policy alignment has been part of the negotiations process from day one, and has only become more important now,” Giaufret concluded.