On 18 October, the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe, holding its 33th Session in Strasbourg (France), adopted a recommendation on local and regional democracy in Serbia following a monitoring visit to the country from 28 February to 2 March 2017. The Congress rapporteurs, Sören SCHUMACHER, (Germany, SOC), and Lucia KROON, (Netherlands, EPP/CCE), underlined that the situation in Serbia has been seriously affected by the economic crisis.
“The country is now actively involved in the negotiations on the EU accession and the process seems to have a significant impact on the functioning of local self-government in the country” stated Sören SCHUMACHER. In addition, Lucia KROON recalled that Serbia responded positively to most of the previous recommendations made by the Congress in 2011, in particular through adopting legislative changes. However, the Congress rapporteurs regret that the progress in the implementation of the Public Administration Reform Strategy, adopted by the Government in 2014, has not been uniform. Therefore, the Congress encourages Serbian authorities to further pursue the declared objectives of the reform by finalising the legislative projects related to local and regional democracy and decentralisation and by ensuring their effective implementation.
The Rapporteurs also expressed their concerns about the challenges that Serbia faces in respect of conformity with the provisions of the Charter. “We deplore in particular the possibility of dismissal of local government assemblies by the government, the lack of transparent criteria for allocating State grants and the failure to implement the constitutional provision concerning the budget of the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina” explained Lucia KROON.
Finally, the Congress recommends that the Serbian authorities provide adequate resources for local government to carry out its functions and improve the transparency of the criteria for approving the hiring of local government staff under the temporary ban on recruitment. It also calls on the national authorities to enact a Law on Financing the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina.
Serbia ratified the European Charter of Local Self Government on 2007. The countries which have ratified the Charter are bound by its provisions. The Charter requires compliance with a minimum number of rights which form the European foundation for local self-government. The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe makes sure that these principles are observed.
Stéphanie Poirel, Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, Secretary of the Monitoring Committee
** 33rd Session of the Congress **