The prEUgovor coalition wishes you merry holidays and a successful 2022!
The year behind us was marked by overcoming the stalemate in the formal process of Serbia's accession to the European Union, with the opening of Cluster 4 (Green Agenda and Sustainable Connectivity) in December. The Serbian government has been working in an accelerated mode to make up for lost time in order to finally receive a positive assessment from Brussels. The stampede of activities before the end of the year, as we warned earlier, affected the quality of democratic processes and adopted solutions.
As we say farewell to this year, we recall some of the key findings and activities of our coalition:
prEUgovor Alarm reports: Accelerated activities with no tangible results and to the detriment of democracy
We presented two prEUgovor Alarm Reports on Serbia's progress in key areas of European integration - Political Criteria and Chapters 23 and 24, which are grouped together in Cluster 1 (Fundamentals). The Report was redesigned and renamed, in line with the new enlargement methodology. However, the coalition's findings confirm that the reform approach of the Serbian authorities remained unchanged - it is still a ’ticking-the-box’ exercise rather than substantial reforms. Despite numerous activities, there are no tangible results. This was confirmed by the European Commission's Annual Report for Serbia in October, assessing limited progress in most areas, including Chapters 23 and 24. Freedom of the media, the fight against corruption and organized crime remain major critical areas.
PrEUgovor Brief Alerts on a series of problematic solutions and actions of Serbian institutions
In June, we warned that poor solutions from the Draft Law on Amendments to the Law on Free Access to Information of Public Importance represent a serious threat to the achieved level of rights. Amendments to this law, which is one of the basic mechanisms for requiring transparency and accountability of institutions, were adopted in an improved version in early November. We have recently alerted to the problematic actions of the competent institutions in the case of foreign workers at the Ling Long factory construction site in Zrenjanin, as well as the conduct of the police at environmental protests.
Investigative stories: examples highlighting the lack of Rule of Law reforms
Within the coalition, CINS investigated how the ruling Serbian Progressive Party from being a tenant to owning real estate worth millions in a few years, and how this party receives covert donations from private companies through a network of sites and social media accounts that have been activated mostly before elections in Serbia. Investigative journalists from CINS also wrote about the problems of the rule of law in connection with the expropriation of property for the Chinese company Zidjin in the vicinity of Bor. One of the stories showed that tax evasion for big players is a crime that pays off, considering that far smaller fines are received for millions of unpaid taxes.
Reforms under scrutiny: From expert details to simple visuals
We commented on the draft laws in the field of anti-discrimination, the fight against corruption and the election and referendum campaign, and gave concrete proposals for their improvement. We analyzed the revolutionary verdict of the Constitutional Court of Serbia from March 2021 and its significance in the field of combating human trafficking.
Ready for 2022
The referendum on the constitutional amendments in the field of judiciary will be held on January 16th, and regular presidential and early parliamentary elections in early April.
Follow with us further reforms in Serbia on the European path.
Coalition prEUgovor is a network of civil society organisations formed in order to monitor the implementation of policies relating to the accession negotiations between Serbia and the EU, with an emphasis on Chapters 23 and 24 of the Acquis. In doing so, the coalition aims to use the EU integration process to help accomplish substantial progress in the further democratisation of the Serbian society.
Members of the coalition are: ASTRA - Anti-Trafficking Action, Autonomous Women's Centre (AWC), Belgrade Centre for Security Policy (BCSP), Centre for Investigative Journalism in Serbia (CINS), Centre for Applied European Studies (CPES), Group 484 and Transparency Serbia (TS).
Key product of the coalition is the semi-annual Alarm Report on Serbia’s progress in Cluster 1.