Serbia has benefited from the Council of Europe co-operation programmes since 2002. In this respect, the Council of Europe has been providing support to Serbia to advance its reform agenda, ensuring compliance with Council of Europe standards and advancing the European Union accession process. In close co-operation with the Serbian authorities, support has been provided to the reforms in the following key areas: rule of law, judiciary, human and minority rights, freedom of expression and freedom of the media, human resources management in local self-government as well as preventing money laundering and terrorist financing.
Support is also provided to Serbia through the European Union/Council of Europe Joint Programme “Human resources management in local self-governments – Phase 2”, as well as through the project “Preventing money laundering and terrorist financing in Serbia” with the assistance of the Swedish International Development Co-operation Agency. The Council of Europe also provides assistance to the Serbian authorities with the project “Strengthening the judicial reform process in Serbia” funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Republic of Germany.
The co-operation with Serbia was further streamlined through the European Union/Council of Europe Horizontal Facility for the Western Balkans and Turkey, a flagship instrument launched in May 2016. The second phase of the programme is currently under way, with seven actions implemented in Serbia contributing to the reforms in the penitentiary system, reinforced judicial practice in line with the requirements of the European Convention on Human Rights, enhanced capacity of judges to counter the risk of undue influence and strengthened implementation of the recommendations of the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings as well as improving the application of European standards in the field of freedom of expression and freedom of the media. In the same vein, the capacity of national and local stakeholders to better address issues relating to anti-discrimination has been enhanced, while also supporting the schools, local communities and relevant education institutions in fighting discrimination in education.
Serbia also plays an active role in the regional actions of the Horizontal Facility in the following areas: enhancing penitentiary capacities in addressing radicalisation in prisons, achieving quality and sustainability of justice through the Council of Europe flagship initiative based on CEPEJ methodology “Dashboard – Western Balkans”, human rights education for legal professionals (HELP) and PACE co-operation on advancing legislative reforms. Similarly, the following topics are also tackled from a regional perspective: judicial training institutes, legal certainty, economic crime, promotion of diversity and equality and freedom of expression and freedom of the media.
The capacity of Serbia to target crime proceeds on the Internet are strengthened through the European Union/Council of Europe regional Joint Programme iPROCEEDS 2 implemented in the Western Balkans and Turkey. In addition, the local authorities are supported in integrating Roma specific dimension in the mainstream local policies through the European Union/Council of Europe regional Joint Programme ROMACTED.
The Council of Europe Office in Belgrade ensures the necessary co-ordination between headquarters and national stakeholders, as well with international partners present in the field.