Different levels of cooperation and integration within the EU have become a part of European integration, and Serbia’s speed on the road to membership will depend on external but above all internal factors, the participants of a May 10 conference called The EU’s Current Challenges said.

Faculty of Political Science professor Jovan Teokarevic said at the conference, which was organized at the EU Info Center by the European Movement in Serbia, that the chief obstacles to Serbia’s faster integration with the EU were both internal and external in character.

Serbia, he said, had, after an ambitious and optimistic enlargement strategy from February, received several wake-up calls, including a statement by French President Emmanuel Macron that there would be no enlargement until the EU was reformed from within and connectedness as the main topic of the EU-Western Balkans summit in Sofia.

“Where the rule of law is concerned, we will not be able to join the EU for a long time, as throughout the region we have potentates and we are not meeting European standards, and everyone who will decide our fate sees this,” Teokarevic said at the conference.

Milos Eric, dean of the Faculty of Economy, Finance and Administration, also said that for membership to happen internal and foreign elements needed to be aligned, but that Serbia was not ready yet.

“The problem is primarily within us. The moment where there is a sentiment for enlargement happens from time to time, and then they will ask who is ready,” Eric said.

As for comments that the EU “is anti-Serb” and that joining has been harder for Serbia than for other countries, European Movement in Serbia President Mihailo Crnobrnja said that the EU needed to raise its standards, which would have to be followed by Serbia if it wished to become a part of the EU.

“We must be ready for a lot of work in the coming period, we need to work hard not just where chapters 23-24 are concerned or relations with Kosovo, but in other areas, too, if we want to be true Europeans,” Crnobrnja said.

European Movement Vice President Dusko Lopandic said that reforms of the EU needed to happen before 2025, which was marked as an indicative year for Serbia’s membership, and that these reforms did not cancel out the rhythm of negotiations between Serbia and the EU.