BELGRADE – Belgrade Centre for Security Policy (BCSP) organised a discussion “Public (un)wanted in European integration” in order to present findings from a six-month research on availability of the information of public importance in the EU integration process.
The event aimed to offer answers on the questions about how well citizens are informed on changes which had already happened or are pending in the process of European integration and which information are available to citizens, to mention only a few.
Results of monitoring the implementation of laws and adoption of government regulations indicate that the Government of Serbia tends to restrict citizens’ access to information of public interest in European integration by changing the legislative framework. Limited access to information today extends to the positions on individual chapters, information on the compliance of the legal framework of Serbia with the EU acquis, as well as to other related documents in the process of accession.
On the other hand, the research revealed that, contrary to what authorities claim, the European Union does not have clear requirements for narrowing the access to information.
The report particularly highlighted that given the complexity and importance of the EU accession process for the lives of ordinary citizens, they must be well and thoroughly informed about the changes that are taking place.
Yet, the public authorities still treat the EU process as a technical and relevant only for a narrow circle of people, mostly decision-makers and employees in the public administration.
Further, as a good illustration of the denial of the right to access information of public importance the report refers to the cases of Savamala, fake policemen and inaction in the case Zukorlić.
Hence, the report calls the Serbian government to take a clear stance on the process of European integration, which goes beyond being an issue of foreign policy orientation, and to ensure the transparency of the process thus strengthening the trust of the citizens. Also, it is necessary to exclude the possibility of classifying the information and documents with a label “Restrictive/limited”.
At the same time, it is essential that the EU pays a special attention to involving the public in accession negotiations, because the existence of public scrutiny as a control mechanism is crucial for the effective integration of Serbia into the European Union.
And finally, it is vital for the EU to deal in its reports with illustrative cases that reflect the existence or non-existence of qualitative changes in the work of institutions (such as cases listed in this report), which are of particular focus in Chapters 23 and 24.
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