On November 9, 2016, the European Commission published its progress report on Serbia (the “Report”), presenting its assessment of achieved political, economic and legislative goals over the last year, and setting out guidelines on future reform priorities.
The Report recorded an overall progress in the field of judiciary, albeit indicating certain delay in the adoption of the new set of anti-corruption legislation. Serbian Minister of Justice, Mrs. Nela Kuburović, stated that this is primarily due to the early parliamentary elections held in April 2016, which had prevented the Government of Serbia from proposing bills to the Parliament. “As early as November 15, 2016, four new bills will be presented in the National Assembly of Serbia, accelerating the process indicated in the Report”, she added.
Regarding the judicial system, it is noted that some steps were taken to promote a merit-based recruitment system, and harmonize the jurisprudence. Nevertheless, political influence remains the crucial problem, which is expected to be tackled by the planned Constitutional amendments. Furthermore, an uneven distribution of workload, a burdensome case backlog and the lack of a free legal aid system continues to undermine the quality and efficiency of the judiciary and access to justice.
In the area of Company law, it is pointed out that Serbia has made some progress, most notably by introducing the mandatory electronic submission of financial statements and simpler accounting in financial statements for small companies (micro-entities). Also worth mentioning is the continued work on the development of e-registration for companies, the process which, when completed, will significantly facilitate business transactions.
Lastly, the Report highlighted the need to further align the intellectual property rights (IPRs) legislation with the acquis communautaire, including the IPR Enforcement Directive, particularly in the fields of copyright, topographies of semiconductor products, patents and trademarks.
Overall, it is concluded that some level of preparation and progress has been accomplished in the aforementioned legislative fields, although further steps are needed to reach full compliance with the EU legislative framework.
By Milan Samardzic, Partner, and Branislav Radovic, Associate, SOG / Samardzic, Oreski & Grbovic