As part of its annual report on Serbia, the European Commission (EC) recommends the opening of clusters 3 (Competitiveness and Inclusive Growth) and 4 (Green Agenda and Sustainable Connectivity), Tanjug news agency reports.
The European Commission said in its latest report on Serbia that the country achieved only limited progress in reforming the public administration, improving the judiciary and combating corruption and organized crime.
“Serbia needs to ensure merit-based recruitment and a reduction in the excessive number of acting senior manager positions, strong quality control role for the Public Policy Secretariat in policy development and coordination, and a single mechanism for prioritizing all investments regardless of the type and source of financing,” the report said about public administration reform.
The European Commission went on to say that “the system for judicial appointments and for evaluating the work of judges and prosecutors needs to be thoroughly revised following the adoption of the constitutional amendments, to allow for merit-based judicial recruitments and careers since the current legal framework does not provide sufficient guarantees against potential political influence over the judiciary”.
According to the report Serbia has not adopted a new anti-corruption strategy and action plan nor has it set up an effective coordination mechanism to effectively address corruption … and should step up the prevention and repression of corruption.
The country also does not have a “convincing track record of effective investigations, prosecutions and final convictions in serious and organised crime cases, including financial investigations leading to a track record of freezing and confiscating criminal assets”, the report said and added that the number of convictions for organised crime decreased compared to 2019.
The report added that the political climate remained polarized and added that all political actors need to engage constructively and in good faith, and implement the measures identified in September 2021 by the Co-facilitators from the European and Serbian Parliament during the inter-party dialogue.
The EC report further said that Serbia started addressing long-standing recommendations by the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE/ODIHR) and the government reinstated the relevant working group on elections. “All key recommendations should be implemented in an inclusive and transparent manner, based on wider political consensus and well ahead of the next elections,” the report said.
Limited progress was also achieved on freedom of expression with verbal attacks against journalists by high-level officials continuing as well as cases of threats and violence all of which remain a concern. “The overall environment for exercising freedom of expression without hindrance still needs to be further strengthened in practice,” the report said.
Serbia’s economy is moderately prepared to develop into a functioning market economy and the tax administration has made some progress on reforms, it said but added that major structural reforms of the public administration and state-owned companies is progressing slowly.
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