Serbia 'to recruit' Lord Peter Mandelson to help country achieve EU membership - he's 'cheaper than Tony Blair' - UK - News - The Independent

Serbia 'to recruit' Lord Peter Mandelson to help country achieve EU membership - he's 'cheaper than Tony Blair'

The Labour politician and former European Commissioner for Trade is apparently 'cheaper' than Tony Blair

Peter Mandelson is being primed for a top level consultancy job to help near-bankrupt Serbia into EU membership, it has been reported.

The Labour politician is expected to be given a contract to help the stricken country enter the single market, after its prime minister considered Tony Blair “too expensive.”

“[Lord Mandelson] is one of the brightest guys I’ve ever met,’ said Serbia’s new PM, Mr Aleksandar Vucic, according to the Daily Mail.

“Mandelson is the best motivator I’ve ever seen in my life. Some people would say he’s on the dark side, but he has a very strong, unbeatable personality, you cannot frighten him, he’s very influential, he can have a real impact.”

Mr Vucic, a pro-European, anti-corruption and moderate centre-right leader, was sworn in on 27 April and is now vowing to deliver his country from economic ruin by following through with a series of unpopular fiscal reforms.

Last week he said that the country could go bankrupt and edge closer to a position similar to that “of Greece” if he did not tackle the issues of a “fast ageing nation,” with the adamant premier also pushing through a new privatisation law so that 584 state-owned companies can be sold off.

Serbia is among a handful of hopeful nations eyeing up EU accession. Mr Vucic hopes that former Business Secretary and European Commission for Trade, Lord Mandelson, will provide the answers, despite the Lord turning him down a year and a half ago.

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Mr Vucic’s eagerness to abide by EU rules is a marked change from his tenure as Minister of Information under Slobodan Milošević’s presidency, where he was responsible for draconian measures to limit the press.

He added: “Of course we would like [to maintain ties] with Russia because of our tradition and history. But our main political goal, our main political target, is to be part of the EU.”

It was announced on Friday that €4billion is being pumped into a new commercial and residential waterfront complex in Belgrade, following an injection of cash from a firm in the United Arab Emirates.

It is hoped that the area, called Eagle Hills, will attract further business and tourism to the capital city to help kick start the flailing economy. The project will commence building in 2015 and will include and 650ft-high tower alongside apartments, shops and leisure facilities.

Lord Mandelson, who is now president of international think tank Policy Network, has warned David Cameron against using the threat of Britain’s exit from the EU as a weapon to get the reforms he desires.

Vehemently against the UK leaving Europe, Lord Mandelson also defended new European Commissioner Jean-Claude Juncker as no “green-eyed federalist.”

“I would just give this advice to our Prime Minister: stop waving around the sort of threat of a referendum in Britain as if it is some sort of pistol we are holding to everyone's head and saying 'you've got to agree with us or else'," he told BBC Radio 4 this morning.

“He has got to formulate an agenda... that is right for Europe as a whole and doesn't keep giving the impression that the only reason he, Mr Cameron, is advocating these measures is because of divisions in his own party.”

Albania, another country seeking EU membership, was given its first glimmer of hope last week after being awarded candidate status for possible entry following a number of recent reforms.

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