An EU-funded programme implemented by the Council of Europe.

Following the Joint Initiative between the European Commission and the Council of Europe on Strengthening Local Self-Government in Serbia, Phase 1, this new Programme Strengthening Local Self-Government in Serbia, Phase 2, aims to build on and consolidate the results achieved in the field of legal and institutional reforms under the Joint Programme, Phase 1.
 

General Information

  • The Programme Strengthening Local Self-Government in Serbia, Phase 2 is a 2.2 Million Euro Joint Initiative of the European Commission and the Council of Europe under IPA 2007 funding.
  • The Programme aims to support the Serbian authorities at central and local level in the elaboration of a decentralisation strategy and in the implementation of institutional and legal reforms in the field of local self-government.
  • The overall objective of the Programme is the establishment of an efficient local government system in order to promote good governance and more effective provision of services to citizens.
  • The Programme started on 29 April 2009 and will last until 31 December 2012.
     

Background

The rule of law, the democratisation of society and sustainable economic development, through the implementation of economic and social reforms, have been reaffirmed as necessary means to set the foundations for Serbia’s accession to the European Union.

The Programme is built on the Strategy of Public Administration Reform. According to this document, the distribution of power between the central and sub-central (local) levels of power represents “one of the essential prerequisites for the democratisation of society at large”. The new Action Plan of the Strategy of Public Administration Reform (2009-2012) was adopted in June 2009. The Programme has the same time span and its proposed activities are aligned with the priorities identified in the decentralisation component of the Action Plan.

The ratification of the European Charter of Local Self-Government by Serbia in 2007 provides a solid basis for setting-up strong and stable local authorities in the country.
 

Main areas of work

  • Consolidation of the legal and institutional framework for local self-government.
  • Strengthening of financial arrangements for local government and support to fiscal decentralisation.
  • Establishment of a co-ordination mechanism and preparation of a fully-fledged decentralisation strategy.
  • Enhancing citizen participation at local level and raising awareness on local government issues.

The Programme seeks to contribute to the sustainability of initiatives in the area of local self-government and to the full ownership by national key stakeholders of the local self-government reform agenda; it will work towards the establishment of a decentralisation co-ordination platform, which would play a key role in pushing decentralisation forward on the basis of a decentralisation strategy for Serbia shared by all stakeholders. The Programme also puts emphasis on enhancing citizen participation and media involvement in local public life.
 

Partners and beneficiaries

The implementation of the Programme foresees a leading role for the Serbian Government, particularly the Ministry of Public Administration and Local Self- Government and the Ministry of Finance. The Standing Conference of Towns and Municipalities, as the national association of local governments in Serbia, is naturally a key partner of the Programme, in the implementation of activities as well as in the institutional dialogue process promoted through the Programme. The Parliament, civil society organisations and the expert community are also involved.

Governmental and local institutions and officials, citizens’ organisations and citizens will be the main beneficiaries of the Programme in the medium and long-term.
 

Expected Results of the Programme

1. In order to consolidate the institutional and legal framework, the Programme will:

  • assess the implementation of basic legislation and the implementation of the municipal statutes and support the drafting of amendments required to enhance the operation of the system;
  • provide guidance for the codification of the election laws (including regulations on local elections) following the recommendations of the Venice Commission;
  • analyse the present administrative supervision system and seek to improve it;
  • support the drafting of bylaws to the Law on the Legal Status of Staff;
  • support the drafting of bylaws to the Law on Communal Police.
     

2. The Programme is designed to promote fiscal decentralisation and sound financial arrangements for local government, and to this aim will provide advice and support in:

  • improving the regulations on local budgets;
  • drafting of expenditure standards for different groups of local authorities;
  • making proposals for bylaws on municipal property;
  • reviewing the equalisation system;
  • drafting the Law on Municipal Debt;
  • assessing and enhancing the auditing system.
     

3. The Programme also aims to promote a co-ordinat ed strategy for decentralisation through institutional dialogue between all relevant actors and will:

  • support the establishment of a high-level decentralisation co-ordination platform;
  • help develop a comprehensive decentralisation strategy for Serbia ;
  • make proposals to improve co-ordination mechanisms between central and local level administrations.
     

4. Lastly, the Programme seeks to enhance citizen participation at local level and raise awareness on local government issues through:

  • support to the drafting and implementation of a Law on Local Referendum and Popular Initiative;
  • specific initiatives to increase citizen and media awareness of the importance of local government issues.
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