On Friday, July 18 2014, at the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia, a constituent meeting of the working group was held dealing with the chapters of Agriculture and Rural Development; Food Safety, Veterinary and Phytosanitary Policy and Fisheries, attended by the delegation of the Citizens’ Association "Leader + Banatski Karlovac." More than 30 members of the working group gathered in the meeting which was held with the idea that group members meet each other more closely and define through a joint dialog the elements of the future work of this Working Group of the National Convention on the EU (NCEU). The working group is coordinated by Mr Dragan Roganović - Network for Rural Development of Serbia and Mr Ivan Knezević - European Movement in Serbia.
At the beginning, guests were welcomed by Ms Nataša Dragojlović, NCEU Coordinator, who presented the structure and activities of the National Convention as a platform for the involvement of civil society in the process of the negotiations with the EU. After introductory remarks, all present members of the working group presented the organizations/associations they come from and shared their expectations and views regarding the future work of WG Agriculture NCEU. The coordinators of the working group Mr Dragan Roganović and Mr Ivan Knežević expressed their great satisfaction with the working group which gathered reputable individuals, organizations, institutes and representatives of agricultural manufacturers and they also asked the members to make suggestions for further expansion of the working group.
Mr Dragan Mirković, a representative of the Ministry of Agriculture and Environmental Protection, the Department of Rural Development, was also present in the meeting in order to present in detail to the members of the working group the current stage and results regarding the negotiations with the European Union on the above chapters. He presented the structure of the negotiation working group for the chapter Agriculture as well as the most important contents of the negotiation process regarding this chapter. He also gave the present members certain guidelines connected with the above fields, which will be of particular importance for the above chapters as the negotiation process makes progress.
In the opinion of Mr Mirković, beside the fact that there is a need to establish an integrated management and control system of agricultural payments, this parameter can be a benchmark (the benchmark for the opening / closing of this chapter) of this chapter. The transfer of funds to our budget system and control of spending will largely depend on the above system. He urged to the attendees to mark the importance of the IPARD program and said that it is to serve as a training through which the Republic of Serbia shows how willing it is to invest in the membership in the European Union and that it is the establishment of this system which is a crucial condition for the quality of the membership, and accordingly, the absorption of the funds transferred to agriculture. His advice to the members of the working group was that they should follow the key segments that may affect their business operations and the withdrawal of funds in accordance with established financial rules. FADN (Farm Accountancy Data Network) i.e. the establishment of the accounting database on farms in the Republic of Serbia, was also one of the topics in the meeting. This system is currently being introduced as a pilot project in approximately 500 households in the country and has been bringing positive results.
In the meeting, the methodology of the working group and future activities were also discussed. For more efficient tracking of the topics within the chapters the working group deals with, it was envisaged to establish the following thematic areas within this working group:
- Agriculture and manufacturing groups (milk, meat, wine, wheat, fruit, etc ...)
- Food safety and the phytosanitary policy
- Rural development - economic activities, infrastructure, services, and the promotion of quality
- Rural development and the rights of citizens (vulnerable groups, networking, social security, education, health ...)
- Protection of traditional agricultural and food products and their production
The next meeting of the Working Group Agriculture and Rural Development; Food Safety, Veterinary and Phytosanitary Policy; Fishing, will be held in Belgrade in September and will be devoted to the development of the negotiating position for the chapter Agriculture and Rural Development. In the next meeting, beside the representatives of the working group in charge of the chapter Agriculture and Rural Development, the representatives of the countries that have recently completed their negotiations (Croatia and Slovenia) will also be invited to share the experiences they gained in the process of negotiations, particularly in the area of the protection of agricultural products. Beside the representatives who participated in the preparation of the negotiating position of their countries, farmers will also be invited to share their experiences in the process of achieving compliance with the European Union laws and explain what changed in their work after their country joined the European Union.