EP will continue to facilitate the Inter-Party Dialogue with the Serbian Parliament

6 October 2020

Joint Statement of Tanja Fajon (S&D, SI) and Vladimír Bilčík (EPP, SK), facilitators of the Inter-Party Dialogue with Serbian Parliament on the presentation of the 2020 Enlargement Package.

Today, the Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Olivér Várhelyi presented to AFET members the 2020 Enlargement Package and the Economic and Investment Plan for the Western Balkans, which takes stock of progress in the implementation of the EU's enlargement policy and recommendations on the next steps for each of the countries.

This year's country report on Serbia is particularly important as it emphasises the need to improve political engagement and democratic dialogue as essential goals for achieving EU-related reforms and making progress on the country's European integration path.

"We believe that there is a need to close the gap between the progress on economic reforms and the lacklustre performance on crucial reforms related to democracy and rule of law, with a particular focus on the electoral framework and the functioning of the Parliament. Addressing these shortcomings is essential to Serbia's European perspective and can only be addressed through wide cross-party dialogue and engagement of all pro-European political forces." underlined MEPs Tanja Fajon and Vladimír Bilčík.

In that regard, the European Parliament remains committed to work with the Serbian Parliament and all relevant pro-European political forces in the framework of the well-established Inter-Party Dialogue. We are ready to continue to facilitate the Dialogue in order to create a space for wide cross-party engagement in improving democratic institutions, implementing reforms and in building an active societal consensus on the European future of Serbia.

MEPs committed to work with the new Serbian Parliament, 22 June 2020

"The absence of pro-European parliamentary parties in the opposition block must not undermine the pro-European determination of Serbia and its aspirations to join the European Union."

Joint Statement Tanja Fajon (S&D, SI) and Vladimir Bilčík (EPP, SK), facilitators of the Inter-Party Dialogue on improving election conditions in Serbia, on the outcome of Serbia's elections held on 21 June 2020.

"On 21 June, Serbian citizens had the opportunity to exercise their democratic rights by voting in parliamentary, provincial and local elections. The parliamentary elections were among the first in Europe that took place during the pandemic.

Whilst there has been substantial effort to improve the electoral conditions through the European Parliament's facilitated Inter-Party Dialogue, we regret that some opposition parties maintained their position in boycott of the parliamentary elections. The lowest turnout since 2000 and the dramatic change in the political landscape in the composition of the new Parliament, where a two-thirds majority will be held by one political list, will present the future Serbian Government an important challenge. We look forward to OSCE/ODIHR's final report and recommendations including on the need to address long-standing electoral shortcomings.

The absence of pro-European parliamentary parties in the opposition block must not undermine the pro-European determination of Serbia and its aspirations to join the European Union. The Parliament has a key role in delivering on the consistent and overwhelming aspirations of Serbian citizens for a future in the European Union.

This is even more important in the context of the revised enlargement methodology which puts emphasis on enhancing political engagement and dialogue, along with the fundamental reforms (rule of law, democratic institutions, economy). A more political enlargement process also requires an enhanced role for parliaments and all political forces who play a crucial role in implementing reforms and in building an active societal consensus on the European future of the countries of the region.

The European Parliament, including through the second phase of the Inter-Party Dialogue, will remain committed to work with the Serbian Parliament and all political forces in order to support crucial reforms in the areas of democracy, rule of law and accountability." (...)

The full text of the press release in the below link.

Press statement ahead of the 21 June 2020 elections in Serbia, 17 June 2020

Credible, transparent and peaceful elections in Serbia are crucial on the European integration path.

In a joint statement Tanja Fajon (S&D, SI) and Vladimir Bilčík (EPP, SK), facilitators of the Inter-Party Dialogue on improving election conditions in Serbia, held a final round of inclusive consultations with all key players ahead of the elections scheduled for 21 June 2020 and underlined their call for credible, transparent and peaceful elections.

"On Sunday 21 June 2020, Serbia will be one of the first countries in Europe to hold Parliamentary and municipal elections under restricted conditions due to COVID-19. In addition to ensuring credible, transparent and peaceful elections, we also urge all participants to respect the health and safety measures put in place for Election Day.

The integrity of the election process depends on the full respect of fundamental democratic principles where citizens are free to express their will through the ballot box in a peaceful environment without any form of pressure or intimidation. We hope that the results reflect accurately a democratic competition where all participants could enjoy a level playing field. In that regard, we call on the competent institutions and the media to provide objective, transparent and impartial service in accordance with the laws and regulations. We also call on all bodies responsible for the elections to be proactive and ensure the full implementation of the commitments undertaken during the European Parliament facilitated Inter-Party Dialogue with the Serbian Parliament on electoral conditions. However, we regret that despite our efforts, the conditions were not sufficient for one part of the opposition who have decided to boycott the elections. Trying to find common ground between all parties should remain our effort.

Although COVID has prevented the European Parliament from sending election observers, we continue to monitor developments closely and our thoughts are with the people of Serbia as they pursue their democratic aspirations in the polling stations. We welcome the deployment of a Special Election Assessment Mission by ODIHR in these difficult circumstances, who, alongside Serbia election observers, have an extremely important role to play in monitoring and reporting before, during and after Election Day.

The European Union is the number one partner to Serbia and the majority of the Serbian citizens are in favour of European integration of their country. As such, we hope that citizens have had the opportunity to hear from all political parties, including those newly proposing pro-European political programmes and agendas that will take the country closer to achieving EU membership. We also hope that these pro-European political agendas will find their place in the new Parliament and will be influential in accelerating the necessary ongoing reforms in Serbia.

The European Parliament is ready to work with all political parties that are committed to delivering the democratic and pro-EU future, consistently desired by the people of Serbia. To this end, we remain committed to working with the new composition of the Serbian Parliament and to the Second phase of EP facilitated Inter-Party Dialogue." (...)

The full text of the press release in the below link.

MEPs-mediators call for de-escalation of tensions in Serbia, 8 May 2020

In response to recent incidents in Serbia MEPS warn that there is no place for violence in a democratic society

In a joint statement Tanja Fajon (S&D, SI) and Vladimir Bilčík (EPP, SK), facilitators of the Inter-Party Dialogue, respond to recent incidents, including a violent occurence today in front of the Serbian Parliament, and to the announcement that elections in Serbia will take place on 21 June 2020:

"As the country emerges from the extraordinary COVID-19 lock-down, it is more important than ever that all political forces and citizens have full confidence in the integrity of the electoral process. Nobody should be exposed to any unnecessary risks when performing their political campaigns and in casting their votes.

Due to the consequences of the COVID-19 that will lead to restrictions on the normal conditions for carrying out the electoral campaign, the role of media is more important than ever. In this regard, a step-change in addressing the area of media and the role and regulation of the public broadcasters is crucial for a successful electoral process.

We are very concerned about the polarisation in the media environment, the use of media for political - including personal - attacks and escalation of tension. Let us be clear, it is the responsibility of all politicians to avoid inflammatory language, to counter hate-speech, to avoid aggravating social divisions by respecting political opponents, and not to mislead the public with disinformation in the media before, during and after the electoral campaign." (...)

The full text of the press release in the below link.

Westerns Balkans summit must bring step-change and strengthen democracy, 5 May 2020

The Foreign Affairs Committee Chair, delegation chairs and standing rapporteurs for the Western Balkans countries confirm EU´s commitment to continue transforming the region.

In a joint statement, the Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, the standing rapporteurs and the chairs of delegations of the European Parliament for Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia welcome the Western Balkans summit of 6 May as an opportunity to reconfirm the EU's historical, political and financial commitment to the region. They consider the summit to also be an opportunity for the Western Balkans participants to affirm their adherence to the rule of law, democracy and continued reforms.

"We welcome the virtual Western Balkans summit, which can deepen ties between the EU and Southeastern Europe.

It shows that any hurdle can be overcome in the commitment to the enlargement process and that fully-fledged EU membership is the ultimate goal. Such public expressions of solidarity are more important than ever, as disinformation campaigns attempt to create divisions.

During these difficult times, the European Parliament stands shoulder-to-shoulder with its Western Balkans partners and we reaffirm our unprecedented political, financial and medical assistance to the people of the region." (...)

The full text of the press release in the below link.

Serbia must deliver on electoral reform ahead of the 2020 elections, 31 October 2019

EP Delegation Chair Tanja Fajon calls on Serbia to implement concrete electoral reforms and invites opposition parties to take part in the 2020 elections

MEPs and Members of the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia met in Belgrade on 30-31 October for the 11th meeting of the EU‑Serbia Stabilisation and Association Parliamentary Committee.

The meeting was co-chaired by Ms Tanja FAJON (S&D, SL) and Mr Vladimir Orlić (SNS). Parliamentarians held in-depth and fruitful discussions on a number of important issues, including the implementation of the EU-Serbia Stabilisation and Association Agreement, Serbia's progress in rule of law areas, the Dialogue between Serbia and Kosovo, progress in implementing government commitments on electoral reform in order to improve the conditions for the 2020 elections, and the enlargement perspective.

Ms Fajon underlined the urgency to implement the concrete proposals to improve conditions for holding parliamentary elections put forward by the Government and included in the conclusions of the first round of the Inter-Party Dialogue (IPD), launched and facilitated by the European Parliament in co-operation with the National Assembly of Serbia. The EP Co-Chair called on all parties to accept the invitation from the European Parliament and fully engage and constructively participate in the upcoming second round of the Inter-Party Dialogue. She underlined that the Conclusions of the first IPD clearly stated that further steps are necessary to improve the conditions for holding the 2020 elections, in particular creating a level playing field for all political parties participating in the elections, including having equal access to media and especially to the public broadcasters. She welcomed the scheduling of a hearing in the National Assembly on 12 November on the role and conduct of the Regulator of the Electronic Media (REM) and called for all parties and stakeholders to participate fully to ensure that clear and concrete proposals are put forward on improving the role and conduct of the REM and media environment. She went on to say that all proposals should be subject to full parliamentary scrutiny and in line with OSCE/ODHIR recommendations. She said she looked forward to taking part in the 2nd Inter-Party Dialogue. (...)

The full press statement in the below link.

Interparliamentary delegations start establishing their bureaus, 26 September 2019

Delegations are electing their bureaus, each of them consisting of a Chair and two Vice-Chairs.

At the constitutive meetings on Thursday, 26 September, most of 44 interparliamentary delegations of the European Parliament decided on their Chairs and Vice-Chairs. Once the elections have taken place, the names of the new Bureaus' members will be published on the Delegations' website. (Check the respective homepage of each delegation.)

Interparliamentary delegations maintain relations and conduct policy dialogues with parliamentarians in other countries, regions and organisations to promote the EU's core values: liberty, democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and the rule of law.

There are 44 standing interparliamentary delegations in this legislative period, the same number as in the last parliamentary term. Most of them have the same structure: they have a Chair and two Vice-Chairs, except for delegations to parliamentary assemblies (such as ACP, Eurolat, Euromed and Euronest), which are led by larger bureaus. Parliament's diversity in terms of geography and gender must be reflected in the composition of the bureau of each delegation; it shall not be permissible to have an all-male or all-female bureau or for both of the vice-chairs to come from the same member state (Rule 223 and Rule 213).