Over the period from May to October 2014, the coalition prEUgovor has been monitoring the state of play regarding the political criteria and policies covered under chapters 23 and 24 - the key policy areas in the negotiation process of Serbia’s accession to the European Union.

Coalition prEUgovor Report on Progress of Serbia in Chapters 23 and 24 - November 2014

The report is structured to present findings relevant to the policy areas covered in the European Commission’s Progress Report for Serbia for 2014, as well as to highlight additional important issues. This report contains a separate chapter related to the process of producing Action Plan for the Chapter 23 and also a special segment devoted to the problems that emerged after the floods that hit Serbia in May, including inappropriate responses by the state institutions and the corruption risks that appeared in the aftermath of these events.

The monitored period was marked by two key events: the release of Screening Reports for chapters 23 and 24 by the European Commission, and drafting of the Action Plans for these two chapters.

Additionally, the Progress Report for Serbia for 2014 was released by the EC in October, so this report is envisaged as a commentary and an update to this document. This report presents concrete case studies, well researched and documented by the coalition’s members, in order to illustrate problems in the areas covered. Lastly, it also contains comments on the Action Plan draft for Chapter 23.

Generally, the progress in the areas covered by the prEUgovor report can best be described as uneven and erratic. When it comes to normalization of relations between Serbia and Kosovo no progress was achieved, mostly due to elections and the inability to form the government in Pristina. Although there was change in legislation regarding civilian oversight of the security sector, the opportunity to systematically regulate this area was missed. The area of the fight against corruption witnessed partial progress with the adoption of new regulations, although the opportunity was missed to fulfil anti-corruption goals to a greater extent. In the area of the protection of women from gender-based violence, protection of children and protection of the victims of violence there was no further progress. In the migration and asylum policy areas no substantial progress was achieved. The same goes for the fight against human trafficking where there still exist numerous obstacles on the path towards full harmonization of domestic legal system with the European standards.

The coalition prEUgovor suggests further measures to be adopted in order to include civil society in this process in a more effective manner and implement the necessary reforms more efficiently:

1. It is necessary to cease with the practice of adopting laws in urgent procedures

2. CSOs need to be effectively included in the process of drafting the Action Plans for chapters 23 and 24

3. It is necessary that state institutions adopt the practice of submitting explanations regarding comments on draft regulations submitted by the CSOs.

Members of the coalition prEUgovor are: ASTRA - Action Against Trafficking in Human Beings, Autonomous Women’s Center (AWC), Belgrade Centre for Security Policy (BCSP), Center for Investigative Reporting in Serbia (CINS), Center for Applied European Studies (CPES), Group 484 and Transparency Serbia (TS).

The production of the report was supported by the TACSO Office in Serbia, a project implemented by SIPU International and the partner consortium.  This project is funded by the European Union.