Strong pressure on the judiciary in Serbia, public denials of international verdicts for war crimes, lack of anti-corruption strategy and usage of tabloids in publishing information on current investigations are among remarks in the European Commission (EC) six-month report on Serbia’s implementation of key chapters on the rule of law and human rights in the accession negotiations with the European Union.
The report the Radio Free Europe (RFE) had access to, also mentioned the widespread promotion of the state decisions in the country’s media and limited access to those offering alternatives.
The EC warned about the practice of the tabloids’ revealing data from the ongoing courts’ procedures.
Also, local civil society organisations calculated that 92% of the TV programmes that were broadcast nationwide (from July 2020 to February 2021) covered the members of the governing coalition, who were reported about in a neutral (31%) and positive (in 61% of cases) tone, while 8% were given to members of the opposition, who are mostly (65% of cases) presented negatively.
The report has been sent to the EU member states to decide whether to open new chapters in the negotiations with Serbia.
The latest EC report is based on recently revised action plans for chapters 23 and 24 (Judiciary and fundamental rights; Justice, freedom and security).
„It will take time to assess whether a number of recent initiatives stemming from the new Government (of Serbia) are being implemented as planned, in tangible improvements to the status quo. Such tangible improvements will require a sustainable, intensive level of engagement and progress in reforms by Serbian authorities,“ the report said.
Serbia opened four chapters in December 2019, and not a single one since then, primarily due to the same objections as those in the latest EC report.
In June 2013, the European Council decided to open accession negotiations with Serbia. In December 2013, it adopted the negotiating framework and agreed to hold the 1st Intergovernmental Conference with Serbia in January 2014, according to the EU official website.
So far, Serbia has opened 18 out of 35 negotiating chapters and temporarily closed two.
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