The prEUgovor coalition reacts to the content of Prime Minister Miloš Vučević’s exposé presented on 1 May 2024, offering recommendations in selected key areas it regularly monitors with Serbia’s European integration process.

The Biggest Government, the Fewest Expectations: Comment on the May Day Exposé of Prime Minister Miloš Vučević

During the May Day holidays, after six months of technical mandate and right before the statutory deadline expired, Serbia finally got a new Government, bigger than ever. Of the 30 ministers, five do not have a portfolio. The former director of the Security-Intelligence Agency, still under the sanctions of the US Department of the Treasury, also found a position in the new Government. Namely, he will serve as Deputy Prime Minister without a ministerial position and without any clear formal responsibility. As there has been no explanation as to why the composition of the Government was increased yet again, the party combinatorics seems to be the main reason for these changes.

Vučević called his cabinet “the Government of Continuity”. However, coalition PrEUgovor’s regular monitoring over the past 11 years indicates a need for a complete change of direction when it comes to the implementation of reforms in the key areas of Cluster 1 (Fundamentals) of Serbia’s accession negotiations with the European Union (EU) - justice, freedom of the media and the fight against corruption and organised crime. The very order of the areas mentioned in the exposé speaks of the new Government’s priorities, leaving the fight against crime and corruption for the very end.

Full membership in the European Union was repeated as Serbia’s strategic goal, but with numerous reservations and criticisms of the EU. The exposé did not address the chronic problems in Cluster 1 at all, nor did it offer solutions or proposed changes in the course of action. Instead of describing the essential problems, he presented statistical data. In an attempt to paint the situation as better than it actually is, the evaluation marks of international bodies were presented selectively.

The tragedies of May 2023 were mentioned only in the context of the anniversary, but the search for systemic answers to the problems they exposed did not find a place in the exposé. Human rights and democracy were mentioned curtly and in general, with many red lines regarding how far the enjoyment of those rights should be allowed to go. The position of women in society was wrapped in the narrative of traditionalism, protection of the family and increasing the birth rate. The judiciary was spoken of in the same curt and general way, stating in a textbook manner that “the judiciary is independent, and the prosecution is autonomous in its work”, as if the constitutional and legislative changes have magically removed all problems in this area. In practice, there is still a long way to go.