Serbia - annual report 2019

Danube Ministerial Conference on Justice in Ulm: Dr Marina Popova, former Vice President and former Minister of Justice of the Republic of Bulgaria; Georg Eisenreich, State Minister of Justice of the Free State of Bavaria; Guido Wolf, Minister of Justice of Baden-Württemberg; Dr Frauke Bachler, General Director of IRZ (from right to left) (Photo: Verena Müller)
Danube Ministerial Conference on Justice in Ulm: Dr Marina Popova, former Vice President and former Minister of Justice of the Republic of Bulgaria; Georg Eisenreich, State Minister of Justice of the Free State of Bavaria; Guido Wolf, Minister of Justice of Baden-Württemberg; Dr Frauke Bachler, General Director of IRZ (from right to left) (Photo: Verena Müller)

Strategic Framework

Legal Policy Starting Point

The Republic of Serbia has conducted official accession negotiations with the EU since January 2014 and opened Chapters 23 (judiciary and fundamental rights) and 24 (justice, freedom and security) in July 2016. For this reason, the need for advice on the harmonisation of law and for assistance in training courses in the practical application of the law has increased even further. The EU also believes that special efforts are needed in the areas of the judiciary and fundamental rights, as well as in the field of justice, freedom and security.

Overall Concept

IRZ began its legal cooperation with Serbia in 2000 within the framework of the Stability Pact for South-East Europe. A particular priority of the cooperation is the long-standing collaboration with the Serbian Constitutional Court, which began with the consultation on the successful introduction of the constitutional complaint and is now being continued with the joint staging of regional constitutional court conferences. These and other bilateral activities are complemented by projects with third-party funding (IPA and Twinning).

The partners of IRZ include the Ministry of Justice, the Constitutional Court, the faculties of law at the Universities of Belgrade and Kragujevac, the German-Serbian Chamber of Industry and Commerce, the Society for the Study of German Law and its Reception as well as the Harmonius Network of Young Law Scholars, which aims to promote harmonisation of the EU legal system.

Principal aim of IRZ in Serbia is to support the country on its way into the EU, in keeping with the EU Strategy for the Western Balkans. The focus is on an effective application of the law in accordance with the principles of a constitutional state and the requirements of European law, as well as on advice in regard to suitable legislation projects. IRZ emphasises the importance of a clear orientation towards Continental European legal principles and legal models in order to prevent hybrid solutions. Furthermore, it strengthens cooperation between legal professionals from Serbia and its neighbouring countries.

Focus of Activity in 2019

Constitutional Law/Human Rights and their Enforceability

  • Participation of judges at the Constitutional Court of Serbia in the regional conference organised with the Montenegrin Constitutional Court “Separation of powers and balance between the powers“ in Podgorica
  • Participation of judges at the Constitutional Court of Serbia in the regional Constitutional Court Conference on “Freedom of religion in case-law before the Constitutional Courts“ in Teslić

Civil and Commercial Law

  • Conference “News from Arbitration“ together with the German Arbitration Institute (DIS), the German-Serbian Chamber of Industry and Commerce and the Delegation of German Industry & Commerce in Belgrade

Administration of Justice

  • Counselling for the Serbian Ministry of Justice in the form of an expert talk on model declaratory action in Germany
  • Conference on the role of judges in cooperation with the Serbian Association of Judges
  • Two workshops on the professional duties of notaries, together with the Serbian Chamber of Public Notaries and the German Federal Chamber of Notaries (BNotK)
  • Publication of the third issue of the journal “Continental Law Journal for sustainable and appropriate legal development“ in cooperation with legal scholars in Belgrade

Basic and Further Training

  • Conference on Continental European law with a special set of topics to mark the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the Basic Law, organised with the Faculty of Law at the University of Belgrade and the Institute of Comparative Law
  • Administration and expansion of the website “Continental Law Journal for sustained and appropriate legal development“ (www.
  • Organisation of the second regional workshop “News from German law“ for German-speaking IRZ alumni from the states of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia in Belgrade
  • Co-organisation of a conference “Legal transplants – ‘borrowing‘ laws or the fight for supremacy in law?“ in cooperation with the Harmonius Network and the Judicial Academy
  • Support for the study trip to Brussels, Strasbourg and Karlsruhe by the Master’s programme “European Integration“ at the faculty of law in the University of Belgrade
  • Course in German legal terminology for German-speaking judges and young legal professionals at the faculty of law in the University of Belgrade
  • Participation of German-speaking Serbian students in the ninth “IRZ Summer School on German Law“ in Bonn
  • Support for the eighth issue of the publication “Harmonius – Journal of Legal and Social Studies in South-East Europe“ in cooperation with the Harmonius Network
  • Support of the Harmonius Network website with extensive downloadable materials
  • Dissemination of legal publications on regional issues published by IRZ, especially the regional journal “Nova Pravna Revija“ (“New Legal Review“), as well as book publications and translations of German laws
  • Distribution of literature on German and European law for researchers and students working in relevant fields at the Faculties of Law in Belgrade and Kragujevac and at the Institute of Comparative Law
  • Participation of a doctoral student from the Faculty of Law in Kragujevac in a course on German legal terminology at the Goethe Institute in Bonn

Projects funded by the European Union

EU Twinning Project: Protection and Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights in Serbia

Since February 2019, IRZ has supported Serbia as a junior partner in the EU Twinning project under the leadership of the Danish Patent and Trademark Office (DKPTO) in the protection of intellectual property in Serbia. The project is scheduled to run for 24 months until the end of January 2021 and has a budget of €1.5 million. Its overarching objective is to assist the Republic of Serbia in aligning the standard for the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights with EU best practice.

Implementation of the project began on 1 February 2019, and an official ceremony was held on 29 May 2019 attended by high-ranking participants. The first half of the project has included numerous measures in close cooperation with the Serbian Ministry of Trade, Tourism and Telecommunications. In particular, IRZ experts were able to contribute their expertise in the first component of the project, which involved analysis and suggestions for improvement of relevant legislation governing intellectual property. Among other things, they subjected the Serbian laws on e-commerce, trademark rights and the relevant parts of the Serbian Criminal Code to a critical analysis with regard to EU legislation. There have already been initial consultations on setting up an online information platform for all institutions concerned with counterfeiting and infringements of intellectual property.

Topics in the second half of the project will include special online training courses for public prosecutors, inspectors, customs employees and police officers on how to investigate infringements of intellectual property rights on the Internet as a means of effectively combating the spread of product piracy in Serbia. In addition, there are plans for several study visits to Denmark and Germany, during which the Serbian colleagues will be familiarised with solutions for the investigation of property right infringements and with the collection of evidence in Denmark and Germany.

EU Twinning Project: Improving capacities and capabilities within the prison system in the Republic of Serbia

Between July 2017 and March 2019, IRZ supported Serbia in reforming its penitentiary system with the Austrian Agency for Economic Cooperation and Development (aed) as its junior partner. The Twinning Project was part of the “Strategy for the Improvement of the Penitentiary System in the Republic of Serbia until 2020“, which was adopted by the Serbian government in December 2013. The project‘s closing event on 20 February 2019 was attended by high-ranking participants such as the Serbian Minister of Justice Nela Kuburović, the German Ambassador to Serbia, H.E. Thomas Schieb, and the Federal Minister for Constitutional Affairs, Reforms, Deregulation and Justice of the Republic of Austria, Dr Josef Moser. They stressed the great importance of the project for Serbia‘s EU accession negotiations.

The Twinning Project contributed to improving the Serbian penitentiary system by transferring expertise and best practice from the penitentiary systems developed in the EU Member States. During the twenty-month term of the project, the German and Austrian experts worked closely with their colleagues from the Serbian Ministry of Justice, especially with the Department for the Implementation of Penal Sanctions. They were able to organise a series of basic and further training seminars, workshops, study trips and conferences aimed at improving the living and working conditions in the Serbian penitentiary system as well as resocialisation. Moreover, the experts worked on increasing the organisational and technical capacities of the Centre for Training and Professional Education of the Administration for Enforcement of Penal Sanctions in Niš. The Centre is responsible for the development and implementation of basic and further training programmes for penitentiary system staff. The project provided training for staff in the area of security, therapy and health within the penitentiary system. Detainees at the women‘s detention centre in Požarevac were able to take part in basic and further training programmes. The final months of the project included the development and teaching of training programmes for staff and managers in the Serbian penitentiary system, as well as training for a substantial number of multipliers. Furthermore, many manuals that had been written during the project were translated into Serbian. Among them are some training manuals that will be helpful during ongoing reform of the Serbian penitentiary system.


With regard to Chapters 23 and 24 of the EU accession negotiations and the EU Strategy for the Western Balkans, IRZ will continue to provide legislative advice, series of seminars and further training events in cooperation with the above-mentioned partner organisations. There are plans to extend legislative advice to include the upcoming reform of the Code of Civil Procedure. Moreover, the cooperation with institutions and individual national experts who are dedicated to the Continental European legal tradition as well as to researching German law and its reception will be continued as well. IRZ continues to attach particular importance to supporting law students and young legal professionals.