Serbia's European Union future after Mladic's arrest

Newspapers with front pages reporting on the arrest of Bosnian Serb former military chief Ratko Mladic lie on a table as locals chat in a cafe bar.

STEVE CHIOTAKIS: War-crimes suspect Ratko Mladic is expected to be extradited from Belgrade to a UN war crimes tribunal -- accused of directing the massacre of 8,000 Muslims in the 1990s. Mladic's capture yesterday and coming trial could clear the path towards Serbia joining the European Union.

Marketplace's Stephen Beard is live with us from London with the latest. Hi Stephen.

STEPHEN BEARD: Hello Steve.

CHIOTAKIS: So the link here, right between Mladic's arrest and Serbian admittance into the EU? How does that go?

BEARD: It was a precondition for Serbia's membership of the EU. Serbia would not get in without it and there are actually other preconditions. There's another alleged war criminal it has to arrest and a lot of reforms it has to undertake. But the arrest of Mladic was the last really big obstacle for membership.

CHIOTAKIS: Why are the Serbs so interested in joining the EU in the first place?

BEARD: Because it would bring billions of euros of public funds into the country to improve Serbia's physical infrastructure. More important though, according to Dragana Ignjatovic of IHS Global Insight it would send an important signal to foreign investors.

DRAGANA IGNJATOVIC: Serbia has be a pariah in Europe for the better part of two decades, and being a member of the EU would bring increased investment, it would signal that Serbia is a safe, desirable investment destination.

CHIOTAKIS: I can't help but wonder though Stephen isn't Europe in some financial trouble right now? Is it really a good time to join the EU?

BEARD: Well, the real troubles in the euro zone -- the inner core of 17 EU countries that have adopted the euro. Serbia's applying to join the wider group -- the European Union of 27 states. Which is more like a free trade zone. And it's not going to happen tomorrow. Even after the arrest of Mladic it could take nine years or so before Serbia gets in.

CHIOTAKIS: OK. Marketplace's Stephen Beard, reporting from London. Stephen, thanks.

BEARD: OK Steve.

About the author

Stephen Beard is the European bureau chief and provides daily coverage of Europe’s business and economic developments for the entire Marketplace portfolio.

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