Comment 08 Nov 16

EU Must Highlight Serbia’s Democratic Deficiencies

This week’s annual European progress report should focus on the democratic deficiencies in Serbia as well as the country’s achievements, in order to prevent backsliding towards an illiberal political system.

Marko Kmezic
Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic. Photo: BETA/Darko Vojinovic/AP

On Monday evening, Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic addressed the nation via public broadcaster RTS and talked about the emerging surplus in the state budget, the newly-opened 40-kilometre-long highway in central Serbia, and an alleged assassination attempt against him.

What the prime minister did not talk about were issues relating to the apparent backsliding of democracy (mentioned in a recent report by Freedom House and in the Bertelsmann Stiftung’s Transformation Index), strengthening the rule of law, and protection of the individual rights and freedoms of Serbian citizens.

It is expected that precisely these topics will take up much of the attention in the European Commission annual report on Serbia’s progress towards EU membership, which is scheduled for release on Wednesday.

When EU accession negotiations began in 2014, the EU’s power became visibly transformative in Serbia. The process of examining the alignment of Serbian legislation with the EU’s acquis communautaire successfully ended in March 2015, and subsequently four out of 25 negotiating chapters were opened.

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