Legal and judicial reform programme
Title: Legal and judicial reform programme
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Republic of Serbia
Lead executing agency: Serbian European Integration Office (SEIO)
Overall term: 2011 to 2016
After official accession negotiations began with Serbia in January 2014, an assessment was carried out in March 2015 to establish the country’s progress with regard to adopting the acquis communautaire of the European Union (EU). The acquis communautaire constitutes the entire body of EU law; as a precondition of accession, national law must be adapted accordingly. Chapter 23 (Judiciary and fundamental rights) and Chapter 24 (Justice, freedom and security) of the acquis communautaire were previously established as focus topics for the accession process.
Implementation and popularisation of the legal and judicial reforms and the legislative process are improved, in particular with a view to Serbia’s EU accession process.
The programme supports optimisation of the legislative process and implementation of new laws in accordance with the rule of law, supplemented by measures to raise awareness of legislative reforms. To this end, the capacities and performance of Serbian institutions involved in the legislative process were analysed. Based on this analysis, the programme organised seminars, conferences and training events. In addition, it provided support for the setting up and developing of the Chamber of Notaries and the Chamber of Enforcement Agents, as well as for the professionalisation of notaries and enforcement agents.
The programme has thus promoted conditions conducive to improving the rule of law and introducing commercial legislation that favours economic growth, thereby assisting Serbia on its path to becoming a member of the E U. The programme has also collaborated with national institutions, such as the Office of the Commissioner for Protection of Equality, in particular to improve the human rights situation (Chapters 23 and 24 of the acquis communautaire).
The Legal and Judicial Reform Programme is cofinanced by the EU under the Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA 2012). The EU allocated significant funds to the Rule of Law and Enforcement project (RoLE) which is a full-fledged component of the overall programme.
- Through comprehensive support for the partners in designing the national strategy on regulatory reform, for instance by providing experts and organising public debates, the programme has made a significant contribution to improving the legislative process in Serbia. For example, legislative initiatives must now first be scrutinised with regard to their legal consequences for the general public and regulations drafted and adopted in parallel with laws.
- Senior civil servants involved in the legislative process have undergone professional development and have improved their legal drafting skills.
- Notarial practice has been introduced in Serbia. The Chamber of Notaries is now established as the independent, service-oriented professional association representing 144 licensed public notaries.
- The Chamber of Enforcement Agents was set up and training provided for 239 enforcement agents. These professionals unburden the courts and work to significantly reduce the number of unenforced titles (currently around two million).
- As a result of the training of representatives who work for key partners, including the Secretariat for Legislation and SEIO, and who are involved in EU negotiating groups, Serbia is better prepared for the EU accession process.
- To promote EU accession, the legislative and regulatory register EVRONIM was published online with programme support. This multilingual database supports the translation into Serbian of the approximately 300,000 pages of acquis communautaire and provides terms and definitions for all areas of EU legislation.
- The Serbian Ministry of Justice was assisted with preparations to adapt the Law on Property Restitution and Compensation. This settles claims of expropriated owners vis-à-vis the state and regulates protection of private property rights.
- Within the scope of media-effective advisory activities, the programme has helped to make information available to the public and professionals about legal reforms, promote their acceptance and create greater transparency.