Alarm report of prEUgovor on the state of the rule of law in Serbia

preugovor 11kzn okt 2018The capture of the state violates the rights of the citizens of Serbia and is a major problem of progress on the road to the European Union. It was concluded on the presentation of the latest independent report of the coalition PrEUContract on progress in Chapters 23 and 24, held on October 25, 2018 in Belgrade. 

Part of the report on the fight against corruption was presented by program director TS Nemanja Nenadić: 

Negative delay trends continued with the fulfillment of the obligations from the Action Plan for Chapter 23 EU Integration. In addition, it is obvious that there are no mechanisms for coordination of activities, problem solving, nor a serious revision of the AP has begun for the purpose of resolving these problemsin the future.                    

1. There is no indication that the situation is substantially improved even in the situations when certain activities are fulfilled. A typical example is the law that should replace the current one on the Anti-Corruption Agency, whose draft is worse than previously published in 2016. Although adopting this law would improve the percentage of AP's fulfillment, it would not make substantial progress, because the content of the law does not provide solutions to the problems that the reform has undertaken.                    

2. The new constitutional amendments confirm the absence of the will to depoliticize the judiciary, which was the proclaimed reason to go to the referrals. The government did not provide an explanation why it believes that the reforms undertaken will bring about such changes, but only relies on the opinion of the Venice Commission on meeting minimum standards. As a result, a solution has been proposed that leaves even less room for judges and prosecutors in the judicial councils proposed by their colleagues than in the current constitution.                    

3. There are no changes in the implementation of laws that already exist, so, inter alia, there are left unresolved issues related to the depolitization of public enterprises and public administration, that continue to operate in “acting state”.                    

4. Positive changes in this period may include changes in laws regarding public debates. However, the effects of these norms can be seen in full meaning only when the bylaws - the government's rules of procedure and the statutes of cities and municipalities - are amended. 

Answering journalists' questions, Nenadić pointed out that opening some negotiating chapters is something that is good for both Serbia and the EU, so that European officials and member states should not punish the bad performance of Serbia in the rule of law by not opening negotiations in other areas . On the contrary, EU officials, and especially politicians, need to make clear to the authorities in Serbia where the problem lies and stop treating the law as something that must be achieved in the long-term process. On the contrary, respecting the law can begin immediately, and if the authorities in Serbia do not do so, even European officials should not show any understanding or relativize the fact that they are not respected.

Coalition prEUContract gathers seven civil society organizations and was established to monitor the implementation of policies related to the EU accession negotiations with a special emphasis on Chapters 23 and 24.

The aim of the Coalition is to help the EU accession process to be used to achieve significant progress in the further democratization of Serbian society.

Coalition prEUcontract comprised ATA - Anti-Trafficking Action, Autonomous Women's Center (AWC), Belgrade Center for Security Policy (BCSP), Center for Investigative Reporting of Serbia (CIRS), and Center for Applied European Studies (CAES), Group 484 and Transparency Serbia TS).