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    • CSOs and the Negotiating Team for Chapter 24 defined recommendations for the improvement of negotiations at their first meeting

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    • Date: 06 February 2015
      The drafting process and the content of the Action Plan for Chapter 24 were a topic for the first time in the discussion that gathered the President of the Negotiating Team and coordinators for all 10 policies within the chapter, more than 20 CSO and a great number of media representatives, at the session of the National Convention’s Working Group for Chapter 24.

      Sonja Stojanović Gajić, director of Belgrade Centre for Security Policy, coordinator of the working group for Chapter 24 - justice, freedom and security, reminded that, in December 2014, 52 civil society organizations asked for the Action Plan to be made available to the public. She commended the development in this area, stating that this session was a unique opportunity for CSOs to directly talk with the representatives of the working group for drafting the Action Plan. She stated this was the first opportunity to discuss the document in the process of drafting with the representatives of the civil society. On behalf of members of the working group, BCSP’s Director expressed the wish to conduct similar meetings in the future as well.  

      “It is necessary to establish a mechanism for public reporting about the implementation of the Chapter 24 Action plan. Moreover, it should be clearly defined when there will be opportunities for further consultations with the CSOs, during the Action Plan implementation. Besides, CSOs demand organizing mandatory public debates for laws and strategies whose adoption is scheduled within this Action Plan. “Within the Chapter 24, it is particularly important to organize public debates for the laws on police, asylum, foreigners, directives on integration, and strategy against human trafficking”, pointed out the BCSP director at the session in the national assembly building, on the 6th of February.

      Chapters 23 and 24 are of great importance to the start of negotiations

      The Chief of the Negotiating Team, Tanja Miščević, pointed out that Serbia made a great step with this document because it encompassed all elements of envisioned directives, the European Commission’s demands, financial means and their sources, as well as indicators of directives’ influence on everyday life of citizens.  There is still much work in the procedural sense, she added. In the meantime, Serbia awaits comments from Brussels on the second version of the Action Plan, which will serve as the opening benchmark for Chapter 24. After finalizing the action plan for Chapter 24, as well as for Chapter 23 on justice that goes together, adopting negotiating positions is the next step.

       

      “It would be really nice to open these two chapters in the first half of the year. We are not doing this just to harmonize with the EU, but to have a safer life. These chapters are opened among the first ones, closed last, and they are important because progress in negotiations is measured according to them, and it guarantees citizen’s safety as well” stated Miščević.

      State secretary in the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the president of the Negotiating Team for Chapter 24, Aleksandar Nikolić, said that the first draft of the Action Plan was not released because the group believed that the second version would be of sufficient quality. He added that all comments from Brussels will be considered, as well suggestions from syndicates and CSOs, and he expects this version to be final.

      Action Plan Draft - good baseline for further work on opening negotiations on Chapter 24

      Nikolić stated that in this document, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the first time, in addition to strategic goals, covered the financial aspects of the Plan. Most of the funds will come from the state budget, but EU funds will be used as well, and Serbia used services of the Bureau for technical assistance and information exchange (TAIEX) whose mission visited Serbia. Dejan Raketić from the Ministry of Internal Affairs said that the making of the Action Plan began after screening in December 2013, lasted more than a year, and involved more than 100 people.

      He brought up the question of impact indicators, namely the society changes as the result of envisioned steps and reforms, as especially complicated. He stated that it takes time to asses influence and it is often a question of insufficiently tangible matters the assessment of which often requires “50 page studies”.

      Only the opening session of the Convention was open to the broader public. Afterwards, the discussion between the coordinators of particular areas and the representatives of CSOs dealing with those areas in a closed session followed. This chapter includes matters of asylum, migrations and external borders and Schengen area, visa policy, judicial cooperation in criminal and civil matters, police cooperation and fight against organized crime, fight against terrorism, cooperation in the area of drugs, customs cooperation and euro counterfeiting. 

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