Calendar Updated: September 28, 2013
MDTF Activities > REPORT ON SCREENING SERBIA Analytical Examination of the acquis - Chapter 23 Judiciary and Fundamental Rights EXPLANATORY Meeting - 25-26 September, 2013

REPORT ON SCREENING SERBIA Analytical Examination of the acquis - Chapter 23 Judiciary and Fundamental Rights EXPLANATORY Meeting - 25-26 September, 2013

On September 25th–26th, 2013, the European Commission (EC) organized the explanatory screening meeting in Brussels on Chapter 23 – Judiciary and Fundamental Rights. In a general view, the meeting marked the beginning of the phase of analytical screening of Serbia’s legislation as a candidate country and assessment of the extent to which it has been aligned with the EU acquis. As was the case with Montenegro’s EU accession negotiating process, the screening process has begun before the convening of the first inter-governmental conference, bearing in mind particular EU interest for these issues.

The delegation of the Ministry of Justice and Public Administration – MOJPA consisted of:

  1. Mr. Nikola Selaković, Minister;
  2. Mr. Dejan Carević, Head of Office of the Minister;
  3. Mr. Danilo Nikolić, State Secretary for the Judiciary;
  4. Mr. Radomir Ilić, Special Advisor to the Minister;
  5. Ms. Mirjana Mihajlović, Special Advisor to the Minister;
  6. Mr. Čedomir Backović, Assistant Minister for European Integration and InternationalProjects;
  7. Mrs. Ljiljana Blagojević, Assistant Minister for the Judiciary;
  8. Mrs. Jasmina Benmansur, Assistant Minister for Registers and Freedom ofAssociation;
  9. Mr. Vladimir Davidović, Head of Group for International Judiciary Cooperation,
  10. Mr. Milan Stevović, Director of the Administration for the Enforcement of PenalSanctions;
  11. Mrs. Aleksandra Stepanović, Head of Sector for protection of rights of persons deprived of liberty, within the Administration for the Enforcement of Penal Sanctions;
  12. Mr. Jovan Ćosić, Head of Sector for Normative Affairs and International Cooperation;
  13. Mr. Zlatko Petrović, Head of Group for the Supervision of Data Secrecy;
  14. Mrs. Danica Stojanović, Head of Sector for European Integration in the Field of Judiciary;
  15. Mr. Nikola Naumovski, Adviser within the Sector for European Integration in the Field of Judiciary;
  16. Ms. Milica Ostojić, Junior Adviser within the Sector for European Integration in theField of Judiciary;
  17. Ms. Aleksandra Papić, Junior Adviser within the Directorate for the Administration ofSeized Assets;
  18. Ms. Milica Vučković, Consultant for Outreach and Communication Strategy;
  19. Marjan Nikolić, Head of Protocol;
  20. Ivana Ninčić, Consultant for International Cooperation (MDTF-JSS);
  21. Milica Kolaković- Bojović, Consultant for Prosecutorial Reform(MDTF-JSS).
Representatives of other relevant state and independent bodies such as the Republic Public Prosecutor’s Office, High Judicial Council, State Prosecutorial Council, Supreme Court of Cassation, Anti-Corruption Agency and Anti-Corruption Council were also present. The explanatory meeting represents the first step in the screening process, organized for the purpose of presenting to the representatives of the Republic of Serbia relevant EU legal instruments within the Chapter 23. During the meeting, the acquis was analytically examined by members of the EC and the relevant EU and international legal instruments and standards were presented in detail and explained, including explanations of their significance and future tendencies, and emphasis on the acquis being a “moving target”, constantly evolving. On the first day of the meeting, the EC firstly addressed essential parameters of an effective judicial system – independence and impartiality, including external and internal independence, legal guarantees for independence, Art. 47 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, etc; quality, including performance and quality indicators, regular evaluation system, quality standards, specialised court staff entrusted with quality policy, training; efficiency and length of proceedings indicators (disposition time, clearance rate, pending cases); as well as reforms of the justice systems in the EU (European Semester, Economic Adjustment Programmes, Cooperation and Verification Mechanism). Regarding EU Anti-corruption Policy, EU instruments were laid out, as well as international instruments and links between corruption and other areas: financing of political parties, good governance, economic development, and fighting organised crime. Subsequently, the importance of respect and protection of fundamental rights in the EU was laid out, including the framework for protection after the Lisbon Treaty and particular rights enshrined in the Charter on Fundamental rights of the EU. Particular issues such as the rights of the child, anti-discrimination, procedural safeguards, liberty and security, right to a fair trial, and victims’ protection were explained in detail. Finally, the principle of mutual recognition as cornerstone of judicial cooperation in both civil and criminal matters within the EU was explained, including minimum rules and examples of instruments. On the second day, the topics of minority and cultural rights, measures against racism and xenophobia and the EU Fundamental Rights Agency were addressed, as well as the instruments of protection of personal data, and the undergoing reform in this area of law. The meeting concluded with the topic of EU citizen’s rights, i.e. rights deriving from EU citizenship.  The consultants participated in the preparatory phase before the explanatory meeting, analysing the relevant acquis, assisting the members of the delegation of MOJPA and other employees within the institution to interpret the acquis, establish contentious issues and draft relevant questions which were posed at the meeting. Subsequently, they actively contributed at the meeting, posing questions and requests for clarification to the EC presenters and taking notes on important issues which were pointed out. One of the basic objectives of screening is to identify the differences existing between the legislation of the candidate country and the EU acquis, in the particular negotiating chapter. After the explanatory screening meeting, the assessment of the level of alignment of Serbia’s legal system with the EU acquis is made through the bilateral screening, scheduled for 9-10 December, 2013, in which Serbia is expected to lay out its’ own legal framework in the relevant topics. The representatives of the EC stressed that the preparation of bilateral meetings is particularly important as this will be the place where Serbian representatives will have to present Serbia’s degree of preparedness both in terms of alignment with EU acquis and the level of implementation of the legal framework, and, if necessary, the plans of alignment. It is necessary to prepare by that time what steps and measures need to be made to achieve alignment with the EU acquis, what the expected timeframe for alignment is, as well as in which way the EC may assist Serbia in achieving these goals – i.e. through TAIEX or IPA projects, etc. The importance of technical as well as political dialogue was also stressed. Furthermore, the EC emphasized that in the area of judiciary reform Serbia should learn from the experiences of other states in the region, for the purpose of establishing an independent, efficient, quality and professional judiciary. It was also stressed that in the area of anticorruption policy, priorities have to be identified, and that this presents the first step in implementation of such policy. Further, in the area of human and minority rights, the respect for such rights is imperative, not only due to European integration, but also due to the interests of the citizens of Serbia The Republic of Serbia should present its administrative structure necessary for implementation of the Chapter 23 acquis and to establish a financial framework for the harmonisation. The EC is expected to submit answers to questions posed at the explanatory meeting which were left open. It shall also deliver additional questions for the bilateral screening by 15 October, 2013, in which it will specify the areas which have to be particularly addressed during the preparations for the bilateral screening, i.e. at the screening. Serbia should deliver its answers to the EC questions as well as Power Point presentations to the EC by 29 November, 2013.