Serbia as the Candidate for the EU Membership
Nowadays, the economic development of every country in the world depends on many factors. Natural resources or business incentives are not the only indices of a stable economy or high living standards. The effectiveness of legal and political systems, high-quality production, the absence of wars, and secure international policy are other reasons to consider. In order to approve the international status, the majority of countries negotiate with international organizations to receive the support of economically stable countries on the basis of common currency and market. That is why negotiations with the EU to become its member are vital for many countries on the continent.
The question of euro integration has become urgent for many countries during the last ten years. Although a large number of countries take many measures to enter the Union, some states are less willing to enter the union. For example, the UK does not introduce the euro as its currency to avoid default risks that took place in Greece and Spain and extended to Italy.
The potential candidates, which have applied for the EU membership, are Serbia and Iceland. Although the countries` geopolitical context is different, the Union has been considering the possibility of integration during recent years. At first Serbian bid was rejected because of the worsening of the conflict with Kosovo. Still, the country has managed to improve some of its indices and regulate the relations with the Republic of Kosovo. Despite the fact that the country has got many tasks to satisfy the European requirements, it copes with the demands.
Unlike Serbia, Iceland has been of the primary importance to many international organizations. Particularly, the country is a member of NATO. Regardless of its high status in the international scene, its role for the organizations remains reluctant. Iceland is a part of the Schengen zone and its citizens can travel around Europe without a foreign passport. The EU took such measures to involve Iceland due to its marine territories with plenty of fish and whales, as well as possible deposits of mineral resources. Therefore, the integration of Iceland is more viable compared to Serbia due to its higher international position and perspectives of inland economic development.
The year 2014 initiated the beginning of negotiations between the EU and the former Republic of Yugoslavia. The country applied for participation in 2009 and the EU confirmed it as the candidate in 2012. The bloody conflict in Kosovo, including the NATO bombing campaign, has been the reason preventing the country from achieving European integration. The Kosovo-Serbian agreement, brokered by the EU, and signed on 19 April 2013 made it possible for both countries to move towards the integration (EU enlargement: The next seven,2014; Kostovicova, n.d.).
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The requirements of the EU are rather strict towards Serbia suffering from corruption and the problems with the legal system. Discussing the question of Balkan participation in the EU, Vachudova (2014) marks that the new EU members receive more advantages and improve their economies, as compared to the old members (Vachudova, 2014). Serbia is much lower in economic indices compared to the neighboring Croatia, which became the EU member in 2013 (Vachudova, 2014). Its refusal to participate in military actions and to impose the sanctions against Russia in the war with Ukraine remains the key point to reflect on (Bieri, 2015). In his article Bieri (2015) underlines the close strategic cooperation of Serbia and Russia due to the pro-Serbian position of the latter during the war in Kosovo in 1999. At the same time in 2014 Russian President was awarded rather a prestigious decoration. Such a partnership can interfere with EU integration and increase Russian aggression.
Another obstacle is the country`s dependence on Russian gas. Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia are the three consumers of Russian oil and gas (Bieri, 2015). The preference of the European policy would mean profound economic changes and the suspension of the cooperation with Russia, resulting in the same military risks and higher gas prices or sanctions from the latter as those in Ukraine.
Another important aspect and advantageous perspective of safety guarantees for the EU countries are NATO membership. The refusal of Serbia to integrate with NATO is obvious taking into account the cruel bombing of Kosovo and the war against it. That is why the country is a member of the Partnership for Peace (PfP).
Other investors that appeared after the 2008 financial crisis are China, Azerbaijan, and Turkey. The latter supports Balkan Muslims, and its political support derives from its economic level. The EU crisis of 2008 showed the dependence of the country on the European markets as the collapse stroke Serbia as well.
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Nevertheless, most Serbians are willing to join the EU. Many scholars foresee complete integration by 2020. The EU is Serbia`s most important trading partner; European import amounts to 62 %, whereas the Russian part is 9% (Bieri, 2015). The election of the pro-European government proves the political judgments of most Serbians and sets many aims to achieve. Admission of the independence of Kosovo means supporting the pro-European perspective. This issue remains acute for the Serbians, and their main task is to hold an independent and cooperative position suitable for the development of the country and satisfaction of the principles of its ethnic inhabitants.
Having considered the Serbian European Integration, the possibility to enter the Union will be viable after many years due to the political position of the country. Nevertheless, there is a positive perspective of the integration due to the overcoming of corruption and the implementation of proper reforms.
Iceland and its Possibilities to enter the EU
Iceland belongs to the 34 most developed countries in the world alongside Norway, Sweden, and the USA, with its GDP index being higher than that of Serbia (Bailes, 2014). Iceland`s market system is free and the taxes are the lowest in Europe. One of the priority fields remains fishery. The abundance of fish in the Atlantic Ocean makes Iceland one of the most progressive fish suppliers in Europe alongside Norway. Although the pretensions of the UK and Netherlands to the oceanic territories where the Icelanders catch fish were high, the country managed to preserve its fishing rights (EU enlargement: The next seven, 2014). Avery, Bailes, and Thorhallsson (2012) mark that the country extended its fishing zone to 200 nautical miles, leading to the dissatisfaction of Britain (Avery, Bailes, and Thorhallsson, 2012). Still, one of the leading obstacles to the EU membership remains mackerel fishing quotas (Thorhallsson, 2014).
Since 2009 the tendencies of European integration have become unpopular. Many citizens of Iceland as well as the government of the country are against the membership. Although the country has applied for membership in 2010, most Icelanders believe that it can harm the domestic economy (Thorhallsson, 2014). Yet, the country maintains partial EU integration. Trade with European countries remains profitable for Iceland. The 2008 financial crisis promoted the country`s cooperation processes with Europe and in 2009 it began the integration procedures. Yet, the question of a full membership remains highly disputable. Most representatives of the government do not realize the involvement of the country in the integration and its role in the European market due to its partial membership (Thorhallsson, 2014).
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Unlike Serbia, Iceland has shown more eligibility in entering the Union. That is why the EU encouraged the Icelanders to join the Union by introducing a visa-free regime. Many authorities as well as the inhabitants hold the pro-European positions because they understand the advantages of the integration. Particularly, the tendencies to enter the EU appeared after the 2008 financial crisis when the Icelandic krona lowered in value against the euro.
On the other hand, many Icelanders express their fears about damaging the country’s economy because of the integration. As they believe, Iceland will not be a free-trade country and will not be able to cooperate with China independently. Agricultural complex and farming are other fields that can lose benefits due to the integration. The domestic fishing subsidies are higher compared to the European ones and thus, their development can shrink, according to many Icelanders (Thorhallsson, 2014).
Yet, many of them believe that introduction of the euro will support the domestic economy and reduce inflation. Lower prices for goods and lower interest rates are among the advantages of the integration. Therefore, the electorate needs to be convinced of the advantages of the integration and provided with a proper prognosis of further decisions.
Nordic affairs are another perspective for the Icelanders. Like Iceland, Greenland and the Faroe Islands are against the integration. The preference of Nordic cooperation lies in the ability of Iceland to hold an independent position alongside its allies. Besides, such cooperation creates the conditions for the partnership with Brussels regardless of Copenhagen due to its involvement in the European Economic Area (EEA) and the Schengen. Besides, Greenland and the Faroe islands are willing to extend their autonomy from Denmark. Such tendencies will allow the countries to test their abilities in the international market, though their possibilities are less perspective (Bailes, 2014).
On the other hand, the points of the Lisbon Treaty about intergovernmental democracy concern the Icelanders due to possible infringements of their independence. The democratic principles of the Treaty anticipate the role of every participant of the EU in regulating international problems (Conrad, 2014).
Nevertheless, the integration into the Union has more advantages than disadvantages for Iceland. Positive tendencies connected to the EEA led to improved trade between Iceland and the EU. Although many investigators are certain that the country will not be able to protect its independent interests against a large number of European countries, the economists imply the effectiveness of the introduction of the euro to lower the inflation (Avery, Bailes and Thorhallsson, 2012).
The policies of the EU have advantages for the new members. Many countries have been able to improve their economy and living standards due to the integration. In spite of striving for independence, which is the main trait of the Icelanders, the country will be able to cope with its difficulties due to the influence of a larger multigovernmental organization. The support of the US and NATO proves it. Therefore, Iceland is more likely to enter the EU after it realizes the positive tendencies of cooperation.
The process of European integration has both advantages and disadvantages. For many countries, it means losing their independent position or the possibility to make beneficial contracts for their own interest only. Nevertheless, many developing countries are willing to enter the EU to improve its economy. The alliance with Russia and the dependence on its fuel industry present a more difficult obstacle for entering the EU. Yet, the key point of satisfaction of the European requirements remains to admit Kosovo as the independent state, which contradicts the national principles of Serbia.
Iceland has more chances to enter the Union that Serbia due to its approved international status. Despite its independent position, the inflation tendencies and the market system of the country have shown the necessity of European support.
Regardless of the country`s independent character, the role of Iceland remains important for the EEA. Much of its agricultural production is demanded in Europe. Therefore, the sufficient step for stabilizing its international status is the EU membership. Although the country has not understood the importance of the integration yet, many believe that it is important for Iceland to enter the EU.
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