When we talk about the process of Serbia's accession to the European Union and the obligations related to chapter 11, which includes agriculture and rural development, it should be emphasized that this is a very demanding chapter, both due to the number of regulations and the need for parallel capacity building of state institutions and independent bodies to perform complex tasks of planning, realization and control of a whole set of activities and financial support to agriculture and rural development.
Harmonization with EU acquis requires the establishment of a new institutional structure and the development of all capacities that ensure the adoption and implementation of a set of EU Common Agricultural Policy regulations, as well as those of the accession negotiations itself.
For the 2014-2020 programming period, the European Union, within the framework of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), defined goals that should ensure stable supply of the European market for agricultural products at affordable prices, with special attention being paid to ensuring adequate farm income.
The reform of the CAP for the period 2014-2020, it is based on fundamental changes, including:
- Reform of direct payments to support farmers (pillar 1) and the budget for rural development and conservation of nature (pillar 2);
- Quotas and other forms of market support must be abolished;
- Greater emphasis on environmental protection measures, where up to 30% of resources are granted to farms that diversify production, include planting on their own land or maintain permanent pastures.
When it comes to Serbia, agricultural policy, agricultural and rural development itself differs significantly from the structures and processes in the EU to a significant extent. That is why it is necessary to implement significant reforms in order to achieve compliance with the EU acquis, and to develop the development of agriculture and rural areas in an efficient manner, which would ensure their integration into the EU's single market.
Reform and modernization in the field of agriculture and rural development is reflected in the following processes:
1. Legal harmonization
It includes harmonization with the basic regulations of the CAP:
- direct payment,
- organization of a single common market,
- rural development,
- financial rules.
The country must be able to implement the said regulations on the first day of accession, but policy alignment is not required prior to accession.
2. Capacity building for implementation
It is necessary to improve the existing and establish new institutions, which will ensure the harmonization and application of regulations and rules of the CPA.
3. Policy reforms and economic adjustment
The agri-food sector, the rural economy and rural areas should be adapted in a way that would provide as painless integration into the European Union's (EU) space. To this end it is necessary to timely raise competitiveness and improves economic activities and income of residents in rural areas.
4. Accession negotiations
In addition to consolidating the above issues, Serbia is also negotiating transitional periods, or even in some cases, on a constant departure from the EU legal framework. It should be borne in mind that agriculture and rural development are an important part of the financial package for the candidate country, which requires the need for intensive work and preparation of relevant stakeholders and the creation of a favorable environment.
What is the benefit for farmers and rural communities in Serbia?
Some of the benefits that Serbia will have at the moment of obtaining the status of a member of the EU are:
- The use of measures to support rural areas, through which funds are provided for the improvement of living conditions (economy, infrastructure, service, social services ...)
- Direct payments to farmers; Membership in the EU will allow farmers to use funds from the funds for agriculture and rural development, improve the quality of products and thus significantly increase their competitiveness on the EU market.
- Access to the European market; The result of the harmonization of the Republic of Serbia with EU regulations in the field of agriculture and rural development will be the access to the EU market with over 500 million consumers, the regulation of production, processing and sale of agricultural products in the common market, as well as with third countries.
- Establishment of quality administrative capacities for managing agriculture and rural development, including an electronic database of agricultural data. As an example, we will have the opportunity to provide the necessary funds for the establishment of the Agency for Agrarian Payment, the bodies that will be the bridge between Serbian farmers and national institutions of the institutions of the European Union. The Agency will process each request in detail, approve it in accordance with the applicable procedures, and then pay the fees to the end users. Due to all of this, negotiations in the field of agriculture and rural development will be extremely demanding
- Support to organizations of agricultural producers, and above all in the sector of vegetable and fruit growing, which enables small producers easier access to the market and protection of their own interests
- Creating preconditions for easier planning in agriculture, through a system based on an established system for monitoring key indicators, and using participatory techniques that provide wide consultation in the planning process.