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.

Outlook

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.

Serbia – annual report 2020

Strategic Framework 

Legal Policy Starting Point

The Republic of Serbia officially opened negotiations on Chapters 23 (Judiciary and Fundamental Rights) and 24 (Justice, Freedom and Security) in July 2016 as part of the EU accession negotiations and is considered, together with Montenegro, as a pioneer of EU approximation among the West Balkan countries. As the EU considers that special efforts are required in the areas of the judiciary and fundamental rights, as well as in the thematic area of justice, freedom and security, the need for advice on harmonisation of the law and for assistance in training in the practical application of the law has increased.

Overall Concept 

IRZ started its legal cooperation with Serbia in 2000 and has since supported the country on its way into the EU, in keeping with the EU West Balkans Strategy. Within this context, IRZ benefits from Germany’s standing as one of Serbia’s important economic partners. For IRZ, the focus is on effective application of the law in compliance with the principles of the rule of law and 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 in Serbia and neighbouring countries. Bilateral activities also include EU Twinning projects, in particular.

IRZ’s partners include the Ministry of Justice, the Constitutional Court, the law faculties of the Universities of Belgrade and Kragujevac, the German-Serbian Chamber of Industry and Commerce, the Institute of Comparative Law in Belgrade, and the Harmonius association-network of young legal scholars, whose goal is to promote EU legal harmonisation.

Focus of Activity in 2020

Constitutional Law, Human Rights and their Enforceability

  • Participation by Serbian constitutional judges in the virtual regional conference of the Constitutional Courts on the topic of “dissenting votes in the practice of the constitutional courts”
  • Distribution of translated decisions of the Federal Constitutional Court on constitutional matters related to the COVID-19 pandemic and other constitutional issues

Civil and Commercial Law 

  • Online conference “Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on arbitration” for arbitrators, held in cooperation with the German Arbitration Institute (DIS) and the German-Serbian Chamber of Industry and Commerce (AHK) in Belgrade

Administration of Justice

  • Online conference on the continental European legacy in cooperation with the Faculty of Law at the University of Belgrade
  • Regional online workshop series for German-speaking IRZ alumni from the partner states Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia on the topics of:
    • COVID-19 pandemic and German federalism
    • questions of labour law in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic, parts I and II
    • arbitration in Germany
    • questions of constitutional law in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic, parts I, II and III
    • problems of language mediation in the legal field
  • Co-hosting of the hybrid annual conference of the Harmonius association-network of young legal scholars in collaboration with the network and the Judicial Academy
  • Lecture on German law, in particular on the reappraisal of Nazi law in Germany to mark the 180th anniversary of the Faculty of Law in Kragujevac
  • Dissemination of literature on German and European law as a guide to legal transformation for relevant academics and students at the faculties of law in Belgrade and Kragujevac and at the Institute of Comparative Law

Outlook

IRZ will continue its legislative advice, series of seminars and further training events with the aforementioned partner organisations, with a particular focus on Chapters 23 and 24 of the EU accession negotiations and the EU West Balkans Strategy. In this regard, there are plans to broaden the legislative advice to include the envisaged reform of civil procedural law. 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 continue. Finally, support for the next generation of lawyers will also be maintained.

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. kontinentalno-pravo.info)
  • 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.

Outlook

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.