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Serbia - annual report 2018

Published: July 16, 2019
Workshop on the new Serbian Registration Act: Judicial Counsel Richard Bock, then Vice-President of the Federal Chamber of Notaries (on the right) giving his welcome address; Srbislav Cvejić, President of the Serbian Chamber of Notaries; Dr Lovro Tomašić, notary from Melrichstadt; Matthias Schikorski, German Embassy in Belgrade (from right to left)
Workshop on the new Serbian Registration Act: Judicial Counsel Richard Bock, then Vice-President of the Federal Chamber of Notaries (on the right) giving his welcome address; Srbislav Cvejić, President of the Serbian Chamber of Notaries; Dr Lovro Tomašić, notary from Melrichstadt; Matthias Schikorski, German Embassy in Belgrade (from right to left)

Strategic Framework

Legal Policy Starting Point

The Republic of Serbia, with which the EU started formal accession negotiations in January 2014, 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 law has increased even further. What is more, the EU considers that special efforts are required in the areas of the aforementioned chapters.

Overall Concept

The IRZ began legal cooperation with Serbia in 2000 within the framework of the Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe. A particular priority of the cooperation with Serbia 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 the IRZ include the Constitutional Court, the faculties of law at the Universities of Belgrade and Kragujevac, the Delegation of German Industry & Commerce in Serbia, 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.

The main objective of the 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 here is on an effective application of the law in accordance with the rule-of-law principles of a constitutional state and the requirements of European law, as well as on advice in regard to suitable legislative reform projects. The 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 lawyers from Serbia and its neighbouring countries.

Foci of Activity in 2018

Constitutional Law / Human Rights and their Enforceability

Civil and Commercial Law

Administration of Justice

Basic and Further Training

Criminal and Criminal Procedure Law

Projects Financed by the European Union

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

Since mid-2017, the IRZ has supported Serbia in reforming its execution of punishments system as part of the EU Twinning Project with the Austrian Agency for Economic Cooperation and Development (aed) as its junior partner. As 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 aims to provide assistance in the following key areas: counselling of the Centre for the Training and Vocational Further Training of Detainees, basic and further training for prison guard officers, basic and further training of detainees in the women‘s detention centre in Požarevac. The project office is located in the “Centre for Training and Vocational Education of the Administration for Enforcement of Penal Sanctions“ in Niš.

In 2018, two key areas of the project focusing on advice at the Centre for the Training and Vocational Further Training of Detainees and the basic and further training of detainees in the women‘s detention centre in Požarevac were brought to a successful conclusion in close cooperation with the Department for the Implementation of Penal Sanctions in the Serbian Ministry of Justice. Among other things, this involved the successful preparation of training requirements‘ analyses and programmes, training programmes for managerial staff in Serbian penitentiary systems, as well as a programme to teach manual/craft skills to 50 detainees at the women‘s detention centre in Požarevac.

Moreover, a study trip to Bremen by a high-level delegation from the Serbian penitentiary system was organised in September 2018 as part of the basic and further training for prison guard officers. Included in the trip‘s itinerary were visits to the prisons in Bremen-Oslebshausen and Bremerhaven, the University of Public Administration and the Social Services of the Judiciary in the State of Bremen. During the visit, a pilot project from Bremerhaven prison was presented to the delegation, in which the Social Services of the Judiciary take charge of social services within the facility, which are then closely organised and coordinated with the probation officers working there. Members of the delegation had the opportunity to learn more about the technical standards and practical work within enforcement in the State of Bremen and the Social Services of the Judiciary during numerous discussions with experts. There were also extensive talks on the topic of managing detainees and former detainees with drug addiction problems. The project is scheduled to run until the end of March 2019.

EU Technical Assistance Project: Policy and Legal Advice Centre (PLAC II)

Since 2016, the IRZ has been supporting the European Integration Ministry of the Republic of Serbia and other Serbian institutions in the area of EU approximation, particularly in the area of legislation, in a consortium led by the Spanish company Altair Asesores as part of the IPA project “Policy and Legal Advice Centre“ (PLAC II). The principal beneficiary on the Serbian side was the Ministry for European Integration in the Republic of Serbia. There were also more minor beneficiaries, including the Ministry of Environmental Protection, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Economic Affairs, the Ministry of Justice and the National Bank of Serbia.

At the heart of the project is the important Chapter 24 (justice, freedom and security), which was opened as part of the accession negotiations with the EU. Other chapters were opened as well, meaning that the project also addressed issues such as animal welfare, greenhouse gas emissions or radiation protection. The project, which built on a previous PLAC project, had a volume of around €2.6 million and a term of 30 months. It was brought to a successful conclusion in December 2018.

Outlook

The IRZ will continue legislative advice as well as the series of seminars and further training events with the above-mentioned partner organisations, in particular with regard to Chapters 23 and 24 of the EU accession negotiations and the EU Strategy for the Western Balkans. There are plans to extend counselling on the legislative process to include the planned 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. Finally, ongoing support will be provided to young legal professionals.

In the area of Twinning, the IRZ will complete the project on the penitentiary system and, from February 2019, act as junior partner to the Danish Patent and Trademark Office in the Twinning Project “Protection of Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights“. It will also advise the Serbian Ministry of Trade, Tourism and Telecommunications on the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights.

The Technical Assistance Project PLAC III, which builds on PLAC II, was put out to tender in the second half of 2018. The IRZ formed a consortium with Altair Asesores (lead partner) and submitted a bid for this project; a decision is expected around the end of the year. If awarded the contract, the consortium could continue its extremely successful work in Serbia.