The last meeting of the EU-Serbia Civil Society Joint Consultative Committee (JCC) took place in Brussels on 12 April. The JCC's members discussed the current state of play and the work ahead in the negotiations on Serbia's accession to the EU and adopted a final declaration. The number of chapters open for negotiation has reached 12 and Serbia was recognised as one of the two frontrunner candidates in the Western Balkan region. "We are pleased that Serbia has provisionally closed two chapters, although there needs to be quicker progress in order for the accession date of 2025 to be achieved. Future EU presidencies should ensure that the Western Balkans remain a top priority", said Ionuţ Sibian, member of the EESC and co-chair of the JCC. The civil society representatives urged the Serbian authorities to continue working to ensure respect for the rule of law, fundamental rights, judicial reform, the fight against corruption and freedom of the press.
- The social economy and social enterprises
The Serbian government should establish a working group for social entrepreneurship that would bring together all relevant stakeholders and would work on a social entrepreneurship strategy for the country. The final JCC declaration also urged the Serbian authorities to adopt the Law on the Social Economy. The social economy and social enterprises help to include the most disadvantaged and vulnerable groups in society and in the labour market. The JCC's members also pointed out the crucial importance of securing financing for the economic sustainability of social enterprises by developing possibilities for micro-credit and using funds at local level. Services for training and educating potential social entrepreneurs should also be supported by the Serbian authorities.
- The involvement of the social partners and civil society in the preparation of Economic Reform Programmes
The final declaration welcomed the new form of structured dialogue between the Serbian government and civil society in the form of the Platform for Monitoring the Implementation of the Economic Reform Programme (ERP) and the Employment and Social Reform Programme (ESRP). However, it also urged the Serbian authorities to involve all relevant stakeholders in a more efficient way when developing public policies. The JCC asked the government to include the European Pillar of Social Rights in the next cycle of Economic Reform Programmes in Serbia.
Background: The EU-Serbia Civil Society Joint Consultative Committee (JCC) is one of the bodies set up within the framework of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement between the European Union and Serbia. The JCC enables civil society organisations (CSOs) from both sides to monitor Serbia's progress towards the European Union, and to adopt recommendations for the attention of the Government of Serbia and the EU institutions. The JCC is made up of eighteen members, nine from each side, representing the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) and Serbian civil society.