This included for example the necessity of strong and effective accompanying measures on the ground, the need for clarity on the definition of conflict areas, introduction of the importers list, the need for a new European authority, and the creation of strong mechanisms under the review clause.
After the official photo appointment, Dr. Horst Heitz, Executive Director of SME EUROPE, opened the network cocktail and welcomed the honorable guests, officials and especially the Minister of Economy of Serbia Mr. Željko Sertić. This assembly was a great opportunity for all representatives of Economy, Politics and Industry sectors to specify the chances and synergies with a special focus on small and medium sized enterprises.
During his opening speech Dr. Heitz highlighted the importance of the progressively developing economic negotiations and relationships between Serbia and European Union. “SME EUROPE of the EPP is very delighted to support the initiative of the Chambers of Commerce of Serbia and to have this dinner discussion about “Serbian Business meets EU” tonight. Not only because it is an honour to have Mr. Sertic, Minister of Economy of Serbia, as honorable guest here, in him we also welcome a good old friend and supporter in Brussels.”, he said.
Dr. Heitz further elaborated the long, successful collaboration between SME EUROPE and the Serbian Business Associations and its Chambers of Commerce. He emphasized that SME EUROPE will continue helping Serbia and its companies on their way to the European Union
In the introduction, Mr. Rübig pointed out that the European Union is still the most important and biggest market in the world. The EU currently still holds 25% of the worldwide production and also about 50% of the social contribution being made in the European internal market. In times of economic and international instability, it is important to have a credible commitment to economic policies. Mr. Rübig drew the attention to energy independence which is, as he described, one of the most important things for a successful and prosper future of the European Union. Furthermore, Mr. Rübig stated that raw materials approximately worth 200 billion Euros are imported to Europe. He underlined that a directive on Europe 2050 would be a possibility to make sure that areas for mining, industry and infrastructure have a secure space to develop.
Dr. Paul Rübig MEP, Committee on Industry, Research and Energy and Honorary President of SME Europe, opened the discussion and introduced the speakers and the subject of the Working Lunch with further questions. He questioned how Europe and the Member States will handle energy and waste in the future and how they could be even more effective in environmental areas and in recycling. The European People Party (EPP) will follow a strong line to achieve more efficiency in the future.
Dr. Paul RÜBIG MEP, honorary President of SME Europe and Member of the EP Committee on Industry, Research and Energy welcomed all participants by indicating the significance of a lively discussion about the current situation and the importance of informing people about the options. He stated that “we now have the chance to create a new situation, which should be a win-win solution for all of us.”
David O’SULLIVAN, Chief Operating Officer of the European External Action Service was the first keynote speaker. He emphasised that “Switzerland is a hugely important partner for the EU”, including economic, cultural and family ties. Nevertheless, the referendum on February 9th 2014, in which 50.3 percent of Swiss voters supported the introduction of quantitative limits to immigration, has “potentially far reaching consequences”. The vote requires the Swiss government to unravel the present agreement, and to request its adjustment from the EU in order to be in consistence with the new article introduced into the Swiss constitution through the referendum. O’Sullivan pointed out, that “this is not going to be an easy conversation to manage”, in particular as long as Switzerland fails to extend the freedom of movement to Croatian citizens. As long as this problem is not solved through the signature of the relevant protocol, the EU suspends negotiations on Swiss full participation in the research programme Horizon 2020 and the exchange programme Erasmus+. Finally, he highlighted that we should not forget that close relations with Switzerland are beneficial to both Switzerland and the EU, and that it is therefore in mutual interest to find a solution to the challenge created by the vote.