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    • Action Plan for Chapter 24 is being implemented as if the negotiations already opened

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    • Date: 16 October 2015
      Negotiating Group on Justice, Freedom and Security will meet at least twice a year with the Working Group of National Convent on European Union, so they can together analyze and prepare the Report on the implementation of the Action Plan for Chapter 24, and the Ministry of Internal Affairs is committed to publish summary of CSO’s comments regarding the Action Plan, as well as the latest version of this strategic document in Serbian language.

      Action Plan for Chapter 24 is an example of good cooperation between the state and civil society; Source: Tanjug
      Action Plan for Chapter 24 is an example of good cooperation between the state and civil society; Source: Tanjug

      The financial assessment is that the budgetary costs of the implementation of the whole Action Plan for Chapter 24 are around 26 million of EUR, and the implementation of planned activities is monitored as if the document has already been adopted - it was said at a working meeting of the Negotiating Group for this Chapter and representatives of civil society, which was organized by Belgrade Center for Security Policy on 16th October 2015 at the National Assembly.

      "The state and civil society agree in their assessment that Serbia is ready for opening negotiation Chapter 24 and is now crucial that the Action Plan is put in practice. Consultation of the state with civil society in drafting the Action Plan for this Chapter has become a regular practice, and it is now necessary to provide information about its implementation. Lack of methodology of the Action Plan is that we don’t know when the activities enlisted in it are going to commence.  It is important that we are informed on the commencement of the activities in a timely manner, so that we can deliver our comments earlier, and not when this is official proposal of the state ", said the meeting Sonja Stojanović Gajić, BCSP Director and Coordinator of the Working Group for Chapter 24 NKEU.

      Proposals have been accepted that Negotiating Group meets with representatives of civil society before sending the report to the European Commission and hold two thematic sessions which would address issues of asylum, migration, visa policy, external borders and Schengen, as well as on the topic of judicial cooperation in civil and criminal matters, police cooperation, the fight against organized crime, terrorism and drugs.

      Most important novelties in the Action Plan

      Changes compared to the previous version of the Action Plan for Chapter 24 are related to the deadlines that have been defined ambitiously  in a number of activities, so they are now adapted to the real picture on the ground and the real dynamics of the negotiation process. The most notable change relates to the adoption of the operational plan for response in case of increased influx of migrants, and the plan was agreed with the activities on other projects and with MIA reform process, as well as the adoption of the new Law on Police. These are recommendations that emerged from the meetings with the Working Group NKEU and this is one of the best indicators of the added value of consultation and cooperation with CSOs, pointed out Aleksandar Nikolić, state secretary at the Ministry of the Interior and President of the Negotiating Group on justice, freedom and security.

      Aleksandar Nikolic, state secretary at the Ministry of the Interior and President of the Negotiating Group on justice, freedom and security
      Aleksandar Nikolic, state secretary at the Ministry of the Interior and President of the Negotiating Group on justice, freedom and security

      ‘Support for the civil sector is very important in the development of the Action Plan for Chapter 24, and as an example I would cite the drafting of the first National threat assessment of serious and organized crime, which is planned to be completed by the end of this year. I particularly want to emphasize the generous help of the Belgrade Center for Security Policy, who helped the Ministry of Internal Affairs to organize joint workshop with representatives of civil society. This is one of the good and positive examples of cooperation on an important and significant document for Republic of Serbia and the security of its citizens. A working group for preparing a Draft of the strategy for the fight against terrorism was formed, and the adoption of the strategy is planned by the end of June 2016, with an action plan for its implementation. No less important is the fact that we have completed a financial assessment of costs of the overall Action Plan and for each of the thirty-one national authority that has participated in the development of this Plan. Total costs until the year of 2018 will amount to slightly more than 26 million EUR. Bearing in mind that the Action Plan is a living document, so the budget projection is a variable category, subject to changes’, Nikolić said.

      Enabling the active participation of civil society

      Action Plan for Chapter 24 was established by the Government of Serbia was addressed to presidency of EU which has forwarded it to all member states for consideration.  Based on such assessment, COELA will consider the adoption of the Action plan, end than as from Serbia a Negotiating position.

      Tanja Miščević, the head of the Negotiating team for negotiation on Serbian accession to EU, explained to representatives of 14 CSOs at the meeting, that European Commission assessed the Action Plan for Chapter 24 as very successful, and the training for writing the Negotiation position for this Chapter will be organized very soon.

      Tanja Miščević, the head of the Negotiating team for negotiation on Serbian accession to EU
      Tanja Miščević, the head of the Negotiating team for negotiation on Serbian accession to EU

       ‘Action plan was difficult to make, but it will be simpler to write the Negotiation position for Chapters 23 and 24. When drafting this document, the Government will consult competent parliamentary committees. Rule of law is essential for the functioning of any state, and EU representatives on last meeting in Brussels were interested how to include CSOs in the implementation of the Action Plan. Guidelines for involving the civil society are ready and need to be adopted by Government when the whole negotiation package is adopted‘, said Miščević.

      The further steps of the Negotiating Group are finalization of the monitoring and reporting system for Action Plan. It is planned to finalize software application which will enable that Action Plan is followed by every interested party, make adjustments and report in real time, as well as to form a sub-section on the MIA’s website dedicated to only EU integrations, which will contain the newest information and an overview of all relevant documents. 

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