PrEUgovor’s monitoring of reforms in chapters 23 and 24 and certain political criteria of the EU accession process indicates that there has been no progress in most of the areas in the period May-October 2020.
The reporting period began with the lifting of the state of emergency declared due to the COVID-19 pandemic, followed by general elections at the end of June, protests against the official management of the pandemic crisis in July, and the constitution of the National Assembly in early August, while the Government was formed only at the end of October. Although there was almost no normative activity due to the above circumstances, some important strategic documents were adopted, including the long-awaited revised Action Plans for Chapters 23 and 24.
Due to the lack of reforms in the area of the rule of law, Serbia did not open any new negotiating chapters in 2020. Serbia still does not have a head of the Negotiating Team, nor has the officially confirmed decision to accept the new accession methodology. The adoption of the revised action plans for chapters 23 and 24 in July and the new Government should unfreeze the process of amending the Constitution and launch further reform efforts.
Almost all the processes with respect to EU integration in the sphere of AP 23 have been discontinued during the reporting period. There is no evidence that the implementation of the Action Plan has been monitored by the Government in 2019 and 2020, since no quarterly report was published after 2018. The Government adopted the Revised AP 23 and the new Judicial Development Strategy for the period 2020-2025. Implementation of activities envisaged in both documents will be monitored by the newly established Coordination Body; however, months have passed without any information about its work. Problematic practices continue in the field of the fight against corruption. Worrying trends have also been observed in the area of combating trafficking in human beings and the fight against violence against women, while the response of the authorities is unsatisfactory.
Organisational reform of the police remains the key prerequisite for the successful implementation of all other Chapter 24 reforms. However, it was not adequately tackled in the Revised Action Plan. This is particularly worrying because, up until this point, this process has been used as a pretext to dismantle control mechanisms, introduce arbitrariness in decision making and thus put police under the control of top political echelons in the Ministry of Interior. It is necessary to initiate the revision of main strategic documents in the area of migration and asylum, since they are set to expire by the end of 2020. Fight against organised crime remains a priority for the Government of Serbia, although a more substantive track-record of prosecuting organised crime groups needs to be established.
The report was published with the support of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Belgrade. The opinions expressed in the report are solely those of the prEUgovor coalition and do not necessarily reflect the positions of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
MEMBERS OF THE PREUGOVOR ARE: ASTRA - Anti trafficking Action, Autonomus Women's Center (AWC), Belgrade Centre for Security Policy (BCSP), Center for Applied European Studies (CAES), Center for Investigative Reporting in Serbia (CIRS), Group 484 and Transparency Serbia (TS)
Mission of the prEUgovor is to oversee the implementation of policies in the field of judiciary and fundamental rights (Chapter 23) and Justice, freedom and security (Chapter 24) and propose measures to improve the reforms, using the process of EU integration to achieve substantial progress in the further democratization of Serbia.