As with each year, December was one of the busiest months and the Serbian Parliament was especially industrious. The aforementioned resulted in adoption of a very welcome set of amendments to the Serbia’s Company Act by the Serbian Parliament.
On 3 August 2019, National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia has adopted the long-awaited amendments to the Enforcement and Security Act (“Act”), which entered into force on 1 January 2020. Having in mind the extent of amendments (more than 170 Articles), we can say the we practically have a new Enforcement and Security Act.
Republic of Serbia (“RS”) has recently amended its tax law provisions on individual income tax by adopting Act on Amendments of the Individual Tax Act, published in the Official Gazette of the RS, No. 86/2019 (“Act”). Among many changes, the one that attracts the most attention is the inclusion of a test on “dependence” and its influence on the tax status of entrepreneurs. The Act sets out the criteria which are to be applied by the tax authorities (“TA”) to determine cases in which the entrepreneur is not actually independent from his client. Entrepreneurs that do not pass this test will be similarly treated as if they were employees, and will, therefore, be subject to a different tax regime.
Since 2013 and adoption of the Rulebook on conditions of breeding of Cannabis Sativa L, a.k.a industrial hemp, the Republic of Serbia acknowledged its production and cast a new light on domestic agriculture. Even though industrial hemp has been a prodigy to older generations for its miraculous multi-purpose benefits, younger generations often misplace it for marijuana, derived from a similar sort – Indian hemp. Regrettably, a similar misunderstanding in regards to its effects is often made by competent state authorities.
Serbian National Parliament adopted Act on the Protection of Whistleblowers (“Official Gazette of RS”, no. 128/2014, hereinafter “APW”) on December 4th, 2014, rightfully recognizing that whistleblowers are essential elements of an ethical social and economic environment and hence deserve additional institutional protection (especially because of their exposure to employers’ retaliation).
On 12 November 2019 in Belgrade, Ministry of Justice signed a cooperation agreement with EUROJUST, an EU agency dealing with judicial co-operation in criminal matters among agencies of the member states. The signing of the agreement took place in Belgrade after Serbia fulfilled the prerequisite by adopting the new Act on personal data protection, which was the final step in complete harmonization with EU regulations and directives. Eurojust has cooperation agreements with 12 countries, 3 of which are Western Balkan countries: Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Albania.
The State Secretary of the Ministry of Labor, Employment, Veteran and Social Policy of the Government of the Republic of Serbia announced the new Act on health and safety at work, which is to be adopted by the end of the year. The new Act is intended to enhance the level of protection at work and to impose a general standard of safety which would lead to a better and healthier work environment.
On its way to becoming an EU Member State, Serbia has been harmonizing its law with the EU acquis. Within the Negotiating Position of the Republic of Serbia for Chapter Nine – “Financial Services”, the RS undertook, inter alia, to transpose Directive 2011/61/EU of the European Parliament on management of alternative investment funds in the national legal framework of the RS by adopting a separate law governing alternative investment funds.
BIFIDEX (Business and Financial Data Exchange) is the service delivery platform of the Regional Business Registry Portal (RBRP) which, as of March 2019, has officially started operating. This portal offers transparent and easy access to information regarding the companies in the Western Balkan countries.
The draft of the new Act on Trademarks will be on public debate until August 13, 2019. The need for enacting the new Trademark Act is twofold. Firstly, the problems and experiences in the day to day appliance of the provisions of the current Trademark Act need to be implemented in the new text. Additionally, the trademark system in Serbia needs to be made compliant with the EU Directive 2004/48/EZ.
In the last five years significant changes have occurred in the Serbian business and political environment. This has been a time of dramatic change – with the general goal of transforming the position and the image of Serbia both regionally and globally, strongly affirming a pro-EU stance and making Serbia much more attractive for foreign investment. Obviously, both of these goals are interconnected because improving the image of a country brings more investments, and foreign investors generating profits in Serbia improves Serbia’s global image.