European Parliament’s report about Serbia: Significant progress, some issues remain

For the most part, the draft report on Serbia, which the European Parliament’s Rapporteur, David McAllister is due to present in Brussels tomorrow, notes progress that Serbia made in its EU accession process last year, and underlines the importance of resolving bilateral conflicts in a way that it would not be detrimental to Serbia’s accession.

According to the report, progress has been made in economic reforms, regional cooperation and the EU accession negotiations. Serbia is asked to invest more effort in fighting corruption, promoting independent judiciary, protect freedom of the press and the rights of national minorities. The country is also expected to make the first move towards continuation of normalization of the relations with Kosovo.

McAllister also urges opening of chapter 26 for Serbia which had been blocked by Croatia, unhappy with the treatment of the Croatian national minority in Serbia.

The Prime Minister of Vojvodina was mentioned as the key figure in this and the province itself was commended for providing adequate protection for national minority and maintaining healthy relations between different nationalities. Also, McAllister pointed that Vojvodina’s autonomy should not be jeopardized.

Although, according to McAllister, Serbia did make some progress in ensuring the rule of law, in practice, courts are still not independent, as their quality, independence and availability remains to be problematic due to an unequal distribution of work, backlog of cases and insufficiently available free legal aid.

Fast resolution of the Savamala case

In his report, McAllister voices his concern over Serbia’s lack of progress in fighting corruption and urges Serbia to implement its national strategy in this segment. He does salute the country on the progress made in fighting organized crime, but underlines that the controversial case of Savamala should be resolved as soon as possible.

Furthermore, he wants Serbian government to ensure full political and administrative assistance to the work of the Serbian ombudsman.

The European Parliament’s Rapporteur cites press freedom and freedom of expression as areas where no progress has been made. He reiterates EU’s demand for Serbia to properly investigates attacks on journalists and the media, and to ensure transparency of media ownership.

(Blic, 08.01.2017)

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