CHAPTER 23 – JUDICIARY AND FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS
Accession negotiations are the final stage of the integration process of candidate country to the European Union. It negotiates about the terms under what conditions candidate country accesses the EU, which are basically related to the harmonization of domestic legislation with the EU acquis. The new the European Commission’s approach to negotiations with the future Member States requires that negotiations about Chapters 23 and 24 need to be open first, which cover the area of judiciary and fundamental rights, justice, freedom and security.
Chapter Judiciary and Fundamental Rights is new, it was introduced after the sixth wave of the EU enlargement. Policies of the judiciary and fundamental rights aim at preserving and enhancing the European Union as an area of freedom, security and justice. Meeting the requirements of this chapter, Serbia needs to implement a number of reforms and activities that have a direct impact on the daily life of citizens. In terms of content, Chapter 23 is divided into four thematic areas, which include: judicial reform, anti-corruption policy, fundamental rights and the rights of EU citizens. Independent judiciary, with necessary capacities to maintain and protect the rule of law is the cornerstone of these policies. In the European Union, perceiving the importance of the existence of independent and efficient judiciary, it is defined a series of recommendations for achieving the impartiality, integrity and high standards of the judiciary. It requires a serious commitment to eliminating external influences on the judiciary, allocation of adequate financial resources and training. In addition, Member States are required to effectively fight corruption, because it represents a threat to the stability of democratic institutions and the rule of law. Subject that is discussed in this chapter refers to the fulfillment of the political criteria that are an essential precondition for further integration. There are few regulations at EU level governing this area and most part of them are left to the Member States to regulate these issues on the best way and to comply with standards that are the foundation of the European Union. Considering that the aim of the negotiations that a candidate country joins the EU, it is necessary to establish mutual trust and to ensure the functionality of the system, respecting the values of the European Union itself.
The National Convention on the European Union Working Group for Chapter 23 alarms the public that only 36 hours after the end of the public debate, the Government of the Republic of Serbia adopted five judicial laws proposals that had entered the parliamentary procedure on January 17, 2023. It has raised the question of the meaning of the public debate, the purpose of 5 meetings held with the expert public, as well as more than 50 attachments with comments submitted to the Ministry of Justice, that were practically impossible to consider within that short period of time.
After the publication of the new EU enlargement methodology last year, numerous commentators stated that its application to Montenegro and Serbia will not dramatically change the current rules. This was confirmed in the proposal of the European Commission, which reached the media in the region last week. Should the Member States decide to endorse the current proposals, the interim rule of law benchmarks will become a category with an even greater weight in the future, which is notable, but hardly surprising.
We hereby express our dissatisfaction with the lack of reforms that the Government of Serbia has accepted to implement in…
On June 5th, 2020, the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Serbia informed the Working Group of the National Convention on the European Union for Chapter 23 on completing the consultative process regarding the amendment of the Action Plan for Chapter 23. The Report on Public Consultations with NCEU, which refers to the second round of consultation, was submitted to the Working Group, and at the request of the group, the latest version of the Action Plan for Chapter 23 also. As the Ministry stated, the Action Plan has been addressed to the state authorities for the opinion within the procedure for adoption.
Under the General EU Position for the accession negotiations with Serbia (the “Negotiation Framework”), the Commission is requested to keep the Council duly informed on the state of advancement of negotiations under the chapters “Judiciary and fundamental rights” (Chapter 23) and “Justice, freedom and security” (Chapter 24), and to report to the Council twice a year. Since the opening of accession negotiations in July 2016, and following the presentation of the annual report for Serbia in November 2016, this report is the second semi-annual stock taking moment.
Nacionalni konvent o Evropskoj uniji i predstavnici i predstavnice naučne zajednice i građanskog društva pozivaju Ministarstvo odbrane Republike Srbije da povuče iz procedure usvajanja Predlog Uredbe o oblastima naučnih i drugih istraživanja značajnih za odbranu zemlje i o postupku i uslovima za izdavanje odobrenja za vršenje tih istraživanja zajedno sa stranim licima ili za potrebe stranih lica.
“There is a shrinking space for the debate about human rights and fundamental freedoms in Serbian society. Also, there is less and less public scrutiny of the Government that has a negative effect on the human rights situation in Serbia.”
The review of the Republic of Serbia at the United Nations Human Rights Committee is taking place in a tense political climate in Serbia, and after years of continued deterioration of rights to freedom of expression, in particular media rights, and restrictions to the possibility to participate to public life in general. Previous three years in Serbia have been marked by an evermore growing decay of institutions and the rule of law.