Rule of law is a fundamental value on which the EU is founded. According to the criteria set out in the accession process, countries aspiring to join the EU need to establish and promote from an early stage the proper functioning of the core institutions necessary for securing the rule of law.
The European Commission introduced a new approach to rule of law in 2012. The approach consists in addressing the fundamental accession priorities first, including those reforms related to rule of law and fundamental rights. A part of this is the opening of the chapters 23 and 24 which provide an important framework for the accession countries, including Serbia, to implement comprehensive action plans covering a wide range of rule of law issues. Serbia is well advanced in developing these two action plans and in the preparations to begin its accession negotiations in these two crucial chapters.
For the citizens, this sector is of crucial importance. Not only is rule of law a key condition for peace, security and prosperity, but it also reinforces the social and economic strength and capacities of the country, and has a powerful transformative effect on society. A well-functioning judicial system, which is independent, effective, transparent, accountable and accessible helps improve the quality of people’s lives. The prevention and fight against corruption allows for better economic conditions and prosperity. Rule of law is crucial for a stable business environment, for providing legal certainty for economic operators, supporting consumers and stimulating investment, jobs and growth. Well protected and respected fundamental rights allow the creation of a strong, fair and democratic society.
In Serbia, in the period from 2007 to 2013 (IPA I period) there has been €56.2 million programmed into strictly Chapter 23 fields.
Substantial support was provided for the increase of the transparency and efficiency of the judiciary, including by providing software and hardware necessary to develop case management systems for Serbian courts, prosecution offices and the prison administration. The improvement of the penalty system was another substantial priority, including the refurbishing of prisons and improvement of the living conditions, such as developing programmes and supplying prisons with equipment for conducting vocational education and training activities. Judicial education and training, through programmes implemented with the Judiciary academy and capacity building support to the judiciary bodies such as the councils remains a continuous priority. Improvement of the efficiency of the justice system is an important aspect of this sector, including the support to case backlog reduction and the improvement of the speed and quality of the delivery of justice. Fight against corruption was also strongly supported, by supporting the increase of capacities of both the independent bodies and of the Government of Serbia to deal with this important challenge.
Fundamental rights and human and minority rights are another continuous priority in terms of support. Finally, through the Policy and Legal Advice Centre, support to numerous areas where there is a need for the harmonisation of Serbian legislation with EU aquis is r eadily provided.
The EU has supported the rule of law sector in Serbia since 2000. Reform in this sector has been recognised as a priority which will allow other reform processes to take place more smoothly. Substantial support to this sector has closely aligned with the EU’s policy dialogue with Serbia, which under the new approach opens the chapters 23 and 24 first in the accession negotiations. The rule of law sector in Serbia continues to be in a substantial need for reform, and a priority is the implementation of the dedicated Action plans, developed by the Government for the implementation of the screening report recommendations for these two aquis Chapters. Support is also guided by the existent strategies, including the national strategies for judiciary reform, anti-corruption and antidiscrimination.
- The IPA 2012 programme includes substantial support to the efficiency of justice. This will be implemented through support to the Supreme Court of Cassation, to the Ministry of justice, the High Judicial Council and the State Prosecutorial Council, but also through a works contract to refurbish a judiciary building in Kraljevo, and support to assess further needs for IT capacities in the judiciary sector.
- The IPA 2013 programme includes contracts to strengthen the organisation capacities of the Judicial Academy, as well as a twinning with the High Judicial and the State Prosecutorial Councils.
- The IPA 2013 programme additionally includes contracts to improve capacities of penitentiary services, including the refurbishment of the women’s prison in Pozarevac. These projects will jointly support the implementation of the National judiciary reform strategy and the Chapter 23 action plan. In the field of prevention and fight against corruption, continued support to the Anti-corruption agency is envisaged, and also support to the training of civil servants, coordination capacities of the MinistryJ and support to the enforcement authorities through IPA 2013.
Lastly, the continuation to the support of the implementation of the anti-discrimination strategy is also envisaged.
For more information:
Delegation of the EU to the Republic of Serbia
Tel: +381 (0)11 30 83 200