Eastern Serbia towards the EU
Accession of Serbia to the European Union (EU) is entering its final phase. It is well known the importance of the accession negotiations with the EU for Serbia, and also for the region of Eastern Serbia. The accession process is important in terms of adaptation to changes that will follow. Accession to the EU brings about opportunities, but also brings threats because there will be significant change of working conditions and operations for some sectors, businesses, and citizens themselves. Lack of local stakeholders participation, lack of interest and ignorance of the accession process could also represents a potential problem for the future development of the entire region. Due to these facts, RARIS - Regional Development Agency Eastern Serbia launched the initiative "Eastern Serbia on its path towards the EU" in April 2015.
The objectives of this initiative are: improving understanding of the process of EU integration and thereby indirectly preparing for membership in the EU; a wider mobilization of regional actors, articulating positions and facilitation of their participation in the negotiation process; representing the key interests of the region in the course of negotiation process through presentation already formulated positions, and defining additional regional views on priority issues.
RARIS has formed and expanded a "Regional EU platform" as a mechanism for formulating attitudes, interests and criticism of local actors related to the accession process and the interests of the region. The Regional EU platform has gathered more than 70 representatives of civil society organizations (CSOs), professional associations, local development institutions, regional development institutions, the sector of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and their associations, local authorities, the media, local educational institutions from Bor and Zaječar administrative districts. The Regional EU platform defined two key thematic areas of Eastern Serbia, that were selected based on the priorities of the Regional Development Strategy of Eastern Serbia, and they are: (1) Agriculture and Rural Development (2) Environment. For each of these priority areas, a special working group with the assistance of consultants, defined the recommendations of eastern Serbia in the process of joining the EU.