On Monday, December 1, 2014 MEP Paul Rübig hosted a discussion dinner in cooperation with SME Europe and Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Serbia in the European Parliament on the topic ‘’Serbian Business meets EU’’.
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
Onwards Ms. Maria Spyraki, Member of the European Parliament, took the floor and clearly emphasized that the integration of all Balkan countries, in particular of Serbia to the European Union has to be one of the main priorities of the both sides. This issue was, as she described, the main priority during her country’s, Greece’s, EU Presidency of the Council of the European Union in 2014. She also stated that the planned support funds in amount of 1 billion Euros for candidate countries should be invested in infrastructure projects, such as national roads, railways and energy facilities.
The next speech was held by Mr. Željko Sertić, Minister of Economy of Serbia, who led the Serbian business delegation at the European Parliament. He underlined that the Serbian government will try to involve as many businessmen in the negotiations with EU as possible, in order to accelerate the accession process to the EU. Furthermore he stressed the endeavor of the Serbian government to undertake a range of activities, which set a goal to bring the Serbian economy closer to the EU Single Market. As he also mentioned, it keeps being one of the accession requirements for all candidate countries to EU. Moreover, he also pointed out the ensured favorable economic market in Serbia as well as the low tax rates, especially for new established companies, strong competitiveness in every sector of economy etc.
In accordance with the integration to the EU he drew attention to the high standards and high grade of the competitiveness on the European level. The Serbian government is committed to communicate with stakeholders in order to make the establishment process easier and to solve the existing problems in the Serbian market. This year the report of European Commission has demonstrated the high level of economic relations between Serbia and EU, so Mr. Sertic. The Minister also
reminded that almost two-thirds of the negotiation chapters with the EU is related to the economy and economic issues. “If we want real changes, we have to work together very sustainably”, summed he up.
Afterwards Mr. Jean-Eric Paquet, Director for Albania, Serbia, BiH and Kosovo in DG Enlargement, European Commission took the floor. He mentioned, that the event has been organized very timely and pointed out the effectiveness of the Enlargement Process of the EU related to Serbia. He emphasized that it will be continued by the EC. Serbia is another candidate country in the region, which is growing and developing fast, he stated. Mr. Paquet also ensured, that European Commission will provide strong political and economic support in the implementation of the social and economic reforms in Serbia.
In conclusion Dr. Rübig MEP, the honorary President of SME Europe and Member of the EP Committee on Industry, Research and Energy, drew the attention to the developing relations between European Union and Serbia. He said that the Serbian infrastructure is strong, the tax rates are too low and it is an ideal place to invest. Mr. Rübig mentioned that export is playing an important role in the EU. Self-employment is a main topic and has to be ensured, for example the employment of women. “Who produce products or services has to be secure!”, he claimed. Regarding SMEs (Small and Medium Sized Entrepreneurs) Mr. MEP Rübig emphasized that 80 % of tax is adjunctive with SMEs. SMEs are the backbone and normally strong in export. He also drew the attention to the Framework Program 2020 and Erasmus Program for young entrepreneurs. He brought the questions forward how we can contribute our young entrepreneurs, how we struggle against criminal mafias, how we achieve price and quality in the market.
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