28 Dec National Conference on fundamental rights, policies and practices – EU standards
Belgrade, 23th December 2016 – TACSO Resource Center of Civic Initiatives and TACSO office Serbia organized a two-day Conference on fundamental rights, public policies and practices – EU standards: Models monitoring of public policies in the accession process the European Union, as part of P2P (People to People) program.
The aim of the conference was that civil society organizations jointly reach conclusions in which direction should continue to move in the process of EU integration.
The conference was opened by Zorica Rasković, national advisor TACSO Serbia, on behalf of the Civic Initiatives Bojana Selaković, ad Executive Director and Danilo Curcić, legal expert of YUCOM.
This was followed by a workshop “Dialogue cafe”, where the participants in simulated atmosphere of cafes, share their experiences and practices in work of their organizations. The focus of the workshop was dialogue as a prerequisite and key to good cooperation. This method created framework for team work, apropos connecting participants and acheaving a common idea.
The conference continued with a session dedicated to Chapters 23 and 24 of the European Union Accession process. Ana Janković Jovanović, on behalf of YUCOM, spoke about the monitoring of the implementation of the Action Plan for Chapter 23 and pointed out to the huge problem of inadequate reporting, stressing that “the state does not have all the information about the actions that have been implemented by some state bodies, but also that these bodies do not get complete information and clear instructions on steps that should be taken. Bojan Elek, the Belgrade Center for Security Policy, spoke about the Chapter 24 through the prism of freedom, justice and security from the perspective of civil society. He pointed out that since the opening of this chapter so far little has changed, that is to say that resolving certain issues under Chapter 24, runs rather late. It also noted that the government and civil society organizations must work together for the closing of the above mentioned chapters.
The session of the chapters was followed by a session of “Storytelling”, after which the first day of the conference was finished. Experts from the EU Member States in the region, shared with participants experiences of NGOs from their countries before and after accession to the EU. Mircea Dragu from Euroregional Centre for Democracy pointed to pointed out the phenomenon that number of NGOs has decreased and the quality of its work has improved since Romanias accession to the EU. Ivan Novosel, Director of the Human Rights House in Zagreb said that after joining the EU NGOs don’t have leverage of external pressure on the country any more, which was the method that previously could always be counted on. On this occasion, he repeated the friendly warning not only for NGOs but also for citizens: What you do before entering the EU – is done. Novosel on this occasion emphasized the immeasurable importance of organization networking, in order to get greater expertise and a stronger advocacy position – a principle that has proved to be particularly useful after joining the EU.
The second day of conference began with discussion with Tanja Miščević, Head of The Negotiating Team of the Government of The Republic of Serbia to the EU, on the need for civil society to be involved in the accession process, their role in the process, opportunities to be more critical and constructive partner. On this occasion, Miščević said that the state and the Working Groups for Chapters inadequately communicate the results to the citizens or do not communicate in a good way, that the process of EU integration is very complex and that it should have an expertise of civil society and debates on all controversial issues surrounding entry in EU.
The conference continued with the workshop “Pro-action cafe” where people discussed about what issues are still looking for answers in order to move in the same direction. Key issues identified in this session are the rights of minorities and freedom of expression and freedom of the media.
The final segment of the conference, dedicated to summing up impressions and emphasizing the importance and necessity of participation of civil society in the integration process, was opened by Michael Davenport, Head of the EU Delegation in Serbia. He stressed that all EU member states welcome the fact that the Serbian civil society organizations involved in EU integration and in addition that he was personally impressed by the level of commitment of the European Commission to Serbia and its integration process.