The period covered by this Report – from November 2023 to April 2024 – was marked by the extraordinary parliamentary and local elections, which caused the Government to spend this entire time in a technical mandate. As Serbia had three parliamentary elections in the last five years, such a situation didn’t seem unusual.

Alarm Report on Progress of Serbia in Cluster 1 - May 2024.

As a consequence of the above, and since each time institutions were formed right before the expiry of the statutory deadline, the country did not have a fully operational executive branch of power for almost two and a half years. In all this time, however, the dominance of the ruling party was stable and not even the Prime Minister was changed until May 2024. The new Prime Minister assembled the largest cabinet to date - 25 line ministers and five ministers without portfolios, as well as one Deputy Prime Minister without a ministerial position - and announced the “Government of Continuity”.

The findings of this and previous prEUgovor Alarm reports indicate, however, that it is necessary to completely change the current approach to reforms in Cluster 1. Reform activities are often carried out just for the sake of form, in rushed procedures at the last minute, while obligations are interpreted in a minimalistic fashion, bypassing the solution of key problems in critical areas. According to the assessment of the European Commission, in 9 years Serbia has only slightly increased its level of readiness for EU membership and is persistently half way along the reform path. In critical areas from Chapters 23 and 24 (judiciary, fight against corruption, freedom of expression, fight against organised crime), it once again received a score of 2 out of 5. Judging by the exposé of the new Prime Minister, these areas are not even declaratively among the new Government’s priorities.

What makes this reporting period different from the earlier ones is the scope of documented abuses of the electoral process and the intensity of the reactions of both the domestic and international public. Daily protests caused by election irregularities were organised in the second half of December. The European Parliament called for an independent international investigation of the above allegations and the dispatching of an expert mission to review the systemic problems of the rule of law in Serbia similar to the Priebe Report.3 The prEUgovor coalition has been advocating the preparation of such a report for Serbia for years now.

Although the relevant ministries have announced the preparation of reports on the fulfilment of interim benchmarks in Chapters 23 and 24, these have not been published to date. Moreover, not even the regular reports on the implementation of action plans for these chapters have been published on time. The Ministry of the Interior did not publish either of the semi-annual reports in 2023. On the other hand, the Government committed to additional reporting as part of the conditionality for funds from the new Growth Plan for the Western Balkans, and for the annual EU Rule of Law Report, which from 2024 also includes Serbia (as well as three other candidate states from the region). The authorities’ overall discourse on relations with the European Union has not truly improved, and the EU is often used as a casual target.


Alarm Report on Progress of Serbia in Cluster 1 - May 2024.

This publication is part of the project financed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the Italian Republic. The content of this publication represents the views of its authors and in no way represents the position of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.