I think that I now understand better what we need to do, what our programs need to include in order to draw money from European funds.

During her stay in London, we talked with Ljuba Ivanovic who works in the Sector for international cooperation and European integration in the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management of the Republic of Serbia.

Ljuba was an intern in the Department for Food Environment and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) in London for four weeks thanks to our Professional Development in the UK 2013/2014 programme. We organise this programme in partnership with the Republic of Serbia European Integration Office and with support from the British embassy in Belgrade.

Ljuba told us about her impressions after working in London for a few weeks 

I can say that DEFRA, as a match to the Ministry that I work in, was the best institution for me. Here I work in a department that is in charge of the Common Agricultural Policy of the EU. Currently there is a big reform of the policy underway and every member nation is interested in protecting its rights and interests, so all of them are participating very closely in the negotiations.

You joined your British colleagues in the Brussels negotiations on the reform of CAP. What do these meetings look like?

Those are work meeting during which you go through each article and paragraph of the rules whit every member nation. All member nations delegations give their comments and ask questions, starting with technical ones (In which corner of the document should the EU logo be placed?) but there are some really important ones, such as the increase in the number of inspections. You can see the difference between the new member states that either don’t ask any questions or they ask a really technical one that has no importance, and then you see the well versed ones that are fighting for their rights, representing their national interests and are trying to influence the decision to best suite their country.

Do you think that this experience will be useful in your future work and your participation in the Integration process of Serbia into the EU?

These meetings come down to lobbying for the rights of your country, so it was very useful to be a part of them having in mind how many years of negotiation are in front of us. It is one thing to image how these negotiations will look like, and completely another to actually be a part of them. In Serbia the Agriculture and Rural Development Strategy 2014 – 2020 was presented recently so I hope that I will be able to pass on some of my experience to my Serbian colleagues and help them realise what they need to pay attention to during their stay in Britain. I think that I now understand better what we need to do, what our programs need to include in order to draw money from European funds.