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GRECO conclusions regarding new report from Serbia

Conclusions adopted by GRECO at the 82nd Plenary Session held on 18-22 March 2019 on Serbia's report and performance attracted public attention again. However, this time too, instead of primarily talking about the essence of things Serbia should do in the fight against corruption, it's about general estimates. Thus, Ministry of Justice in this report points out that "Serbia is no longer on the list of globally unsatisfactory countries when it comes to the fight against corruption", and that "Republic of Serbia, out of the total of 13 addressed recommendations, partially fulfilled ten recommendations, while three recommendations have not yet been fulfilled. "

As stated above, the report sounds really positive. However, the essence of the matter is that Serbia has received recommendations from GRECO in 2014, that the deadline for their completion would be the end of 2016, and that more than two years later, none of the 13 recommendations was fully implemented.

GRECO Report really praises the adoption of the Law on Lobbying, as the Ministry points out, but these praises are not fully justified. Namely, this law regulated only some forms of lobbying, and did not ensure that information on who and for whatever reason contacted deputies, are available to the public.

Also, Ministry points out that by passing the Law on Prevention of Corruption, two more recommendations will be fulfilled. This conclusion is certainly premature, having in mind that GRECO explicitly states that they did not have an insight into the current draft and that the previous version should be amended. Finally, most of the recommendations, as the Ministry correctly states, refers to the adoption of an amendment to the Constitution in the field of judiciary.

Expecting that the adoption of the current constitutional amendments will provide fulfillment of GRECO recommendations, is however, unfounded. Namely, GRECO clearly indicates that these constitutional amendments are not in accordance with the recommendations of that body, nor with their own plans of the Government of Serbia. In this regard, it is particularly controversial that the National Assembly will elect (not only formally confirm) half of the members of the judicial councils.