Serbia – annual report 2022

Dean Professor Dr Dragana Vujčić (left) presents a certificate of thanks to Dr Stefan Pürner, IRZ Head of Section South Eastern Europe I (right).
Dean Professor Dr Dragana Vujčić (left) presents a certificate of thanks to Dr Stefan Pürner, IRZ Head of Section South Eastern Europe I (right).

Strategic Framework

Legal Policy Starting Point

Serbia applied for EU membership on 22 December 2009, and the European Council reached the decision to open accession negotiations in June 2013. They began on 21 January 2014, and Chapters 23 (Judiciary and Fundamental Rights) and 24 (Justice, Freedom and Security) were officially opened in July 2016 as part of the EU negotiation talks. The European Union continues to believe that significant alignment will be necessary in the areas of the judiciary and fundamental rights, as well as justice, freedom and security.

Serbia held parliamentary and presidential elections in April 2022, which confirmed the incumbent president and his ruling party in office. Coalition talks continued until the end of the year, also due to the foreign policy challenges.

The European External Action Service (EEAS) and Germany are mediating in view of the tensions between Serbia and Kosovo.

Overall Concept

IRZ has supported Serbia on its way into the EU since 2000, in keeping with the West Balkans Strategy. The focus of the project support with funding from the Federal Ministry of Justice and the Federal Foreign Office is on effective application of the law according to rule-of-law principles, as well as on the requirements of European law. In this regard, IRZ emphasises the importance of a clear orientation towards continental European legal principles and models in order to forestall hybrid solutions. It also strengthens cooperation between lawyers from Serbia and the entire region.

IRZ’s partners include the Ministry of Justice, the Constitutional Court, the law faculties of the Universities of Belgrade, Novi Sad and Kragujevac, the Judges’ Association of Serbia, the German-Serbian Chamber of Industry and Commerce, the Institute of Comparative Law and the non-governmental organisation InfoPark.

Focus of Activity in 2022

Constitutional Law, Human Rights and their Enforceability

  • Regional forum on participatory rights – social and economic rights of refugees – with non-governmental organisations from North Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia
  • Publication of the Biennial Yearbook of Constitutional Law 2020–2021

Administration of Justice

  • Conference with the Judges’ Association of Serbia on the professional evaluation of judges and disciplinary proceedings
  • Practical seminar with the German-Serbian Chamber of Industry and Commerce and the German Arbitration Institute (DIS) on practical issues concerning the use of legal tech in the area of arbitration and elsewhere
  • Publication of the journal “Kontinentalno pravo - KoPra” (Continental Law – Journal for Sustainable and Expedient Legal Development) and conference to mark its publication

Criminal and Penitentiary Law

  • Presentation of the translation of the German Criminal Code and the German Code of Criminal Procedure as well as talk on the dangers of hybrid codifications at the regional criminal law conference in Zlatibor

Basic and Further Training

  • Accompanied language tandem for law students from Germany and south-eastern Europe with the Faculty of Law Novi Sad
  • Online training with the Judicial Academy on the impact of European law on national law with special consideration of consumer law
  • Workshop on “Why is studying law different in Germany?” at the Faculty of Law in Kragujevac
  • Course on “Legal terminology” for German-speaking lawyers with the Faculty of Law in Belgrade

Projects funded by the European Union

EU Twinning project “Protection and Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights in Serbia”

Acting as a junior partner under the leadership of the Danish Patent and Trademark Office (DKPTO), IRZ assisted Serbia in the EU Twinning project on the protection of intellectual property between February 2019 and March 2022. The project is endowed with a budget of €1.5 million. The project term of 24 months was extended to 38 months to ensure that all planned measures can be brought to a successful conclusion, despite the pandemic-related restrictions.

The project’s overarching objective was to assist the Republic of Serbia in aligning the standard of IPR protection and enforcement with European Union best practices. Numerous measures were carried out in close cooperation with Serbian Ministry of Trade, Tourism and Telecommunications in order to achieve this objective.

IRZ experts contributed their expertise to the preparation of a manual of procedures for online investigations. The aim of these efforts was to strengthen sustainable knowledge acquisition to investigate infringements of intellectual property rights. Also included were surveys to determine training requirements and the production of training materials to meet the current and specific needs of Serbian professionals in line with European Union best practices.

IRZ experts held specialised training courses for public prosecutors, inspectors, customs officials and police officers. The courses addressed the investigation of IPR infringements on the internet as a means of efficiently fighting the spread of product piracy in Serbia. Training courses for beginners and advanced users were also conducted on these topics in order to ensure that the best practices applied in the European become firmly enshrined in the Serbian institutions.

In addition, the IRZ team of experts also redesigned the website of the Ministry of Trade, Tourism and Telecommunications as part of an improved communication strategy.

This international cooperation yielded extensive results, despite the not inconsiderable pandemic-related obstacles associated with completing the activities contained in this project. The IRZ experts and the Serbian partners displayed remarkable flexibility and commitment to achieve the proposed outcomes. The Twinning cooperation was described as a huge success at the early closing event in Belgrade in December 2021.

EU Twinning project “Reinforcement of Consumer Protection in Serbia as a Response to the New Market Challenges”

IRZ is completing the above project under the auspices of the Ministry of Economy of the Slovak Republic. It got under way in June 2021 and is scheduled to run for 24 months. The state partner institution receiving the Twinning support is the Ministry of Trade, Tourism and Telecommunications of the Republic of Serbia.

This project aims to strengthen administration and institutions in the area of Serbia’s consumer protection in order to find adequate responses to both the obligations arising from EU membership and the challenges of the modern market. It therefore seeks to improve the institutional and administrative capacities of relevant Serbian actors in the field of consumer protection in regard to access to the internal market.

One of the project’s principal components is intended to improve the provisions of the Consumer Protection Act and associated regulations in order to bring them in line with the prescribed EU directives and with best practices in the EU Member States. The project experts deployed by IRZ identified legal priorities, analysed current legislation and prepared draft laws and regulations on consumer protection.

Another project objective is to contribute to the effective legal enforcement of consumer protection in the partner state. This is to be achieved by purposefully strengthening institution building in regard to cross-border issues and by improving cooperation between the relevant institutions in the field of consumer protection.

In addition to the legal component, IRZ is also in charge of the project part involving alternative dispute resolution (ADR). Besides developing a legal framework, the German project experts prepared training courses and workshops for mediators and ADR institutions. Moreover, training courses were conducted at various locations in Serbia during the year. They were aimed at establishing a functioning ADR system for consumer protection in the Republic of Serbia.

Finally, the project also addresses new market challenges – such as consumer protection in online transactions – by means of capacity building among relevant actors and the issue of a manual to ensure the sustainability of knowledge acquisition.

EU Twinning project “Strengthened Capacities (Human and Legal) of Criminal Police Department and Special Prosecution Office for Combating High-Tech Crime and Public Awareness”

Acting as a junior partner together with the Slovenian Ministry of the Interior and under the leadership of Austria (Federal Ministry of Finance), IRZ has been involved in the implementation of the project since January 2022. It is scheduled to run for 18 months and is endowed with a budget of €1 million.

The project builds on two thematic priorities: firstly to expand the capabilities of law enforcement agencies and the Specialised State Prosecutor’s Office to fight Cybercrime, and secondly to strengthen the legal and institutional framework to combat cybercrime. The project aims to sustainably expand and reinforce current structures.

As part of the initial deployments, the IRZ expert team performed needs assessments with the competent criminal police directorates and analysed the current legal situation. The results will be used in a first step to derive recommended courses of action that will be taught during on-site training courses and workshops.

Within the first component, these activities address the needs of staff in the police authorities and are intended to improve the handling of cybercrime. Targeted train the trainer courses will ensure that the transfer of knowledge continues beyond the end of the project. Public awareness raising is another key element of the project. This includes the organisation of training courses and workshops for children, legal guardians and teachers who are involved in the fight against child sexual abuse on the internet. Manuals and advertising materials round off this measure.

The curriculum at the Judicial Academy is also being analysed and revised to address the topic of cybercrime going forward.

The second component will review current legislation and the applicable legal framework in Serbia. Recommendations for amendments will be developed on this basis with the aim of bringing them in line with EU and international standards. A number of relevant ordinances to combat cybercrime and associated offences are being prepared for amendment.


Cooperation with official offices in Serbia is made more complicated by the fact that the country has not imposed any sanctions against Russia and is therefore not participating in the joint response of EU states to the attack on Ukraine. IRZ will therefore focus its activities on cooperation with non-governmental organisations as well as on Chapters 23 and 24 of the EU accession negotiations and the Western Balkans Strategy of the European Union.

In addition cooperation with institutions and individual national experts committed to the continental European legal tradition and to the study of German law and its reception will also be expanded continuously. Young legal professionals represent a priority target group.

Please find the Annual Report 2022 here: Media centre – Annual reports.