National Convention on the European Union (NCEU) is a permanent body within which the thematically structured debate on the accession of Serbia to EU is led among the representatives of the state administration, political parties, independent bodies, non-governmental organizations, experts, industry, trade unions, and professional organizations.
NCEU is based on Slovakian model which operates since 2001. Adapted to the circumstances of integration of Serbia to the EU, NCEU has followed the negotiations on the Stabilization and Association Agreement (SAA) since 2006, and later the most important topics in the process of Serbia’s EU accession.
NCEU is established primarily as a body for special cooperation of the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia and the civil society in the accession negotiations on Serbia’s membership to the EU, in line with good practice, the strategic cooperation between civil society and elected representatives of the people, which was also established by the Resolution of the Association European Union in 2004 and confirmed by the Resolution on the role of the National Assembly and the principles of the negotiations on the accession of Serbia to the European Union in December 2013. Committee for European Integration of the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia, has also supported NCEU and initiated the adoption of the Decision of the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia on the process of reviewing proposals of negotiation position in the negotiations on the accession of Serbia to the European Union, which states, ”Before the proposals negotiating position of the Committee for European integration must be discussed proposals, schedules and recommendations of representatives of civil society, and the National Convention on the European Union (NCEU) ‘.
In accordance with the principle of compulsory consulting civil society in drafting laws and strategic documents prescribed by the Government of the Republic of Serbia, NCEU will be suitable platform for cooperation and consultation with the Government and its bodies in charge of membership negotiations with the EU (Negotiating team, Negotiating Working Group). The Government of the Republic of Serbia will base its cooperation with NGOs, accordingly, on the following principles: the active participation of NGOs in all phases of the issuance of regulations, mutual trust, openness and accountability, effectiveness and efficiency, cost effectiveness and timely informing.
NCEU is one of the channels for communication and consultation with national authorities and institutions in Serbia during the negotiations with the EU and its activities will be open to other initiatives and collaboration with other partner NGOs and other stakeholders.
The overall objective is to establish transparent and inclusive process of Serbia’s accession to the EU, which provides consultations with civil society, participation and monitoring throughout the process, as well as increasing the quality of the information provided for the Serbian public.
Specific objectives were formulated in order to provide:
Regular consultations of bodies, organs and institutions of the Republic of Serbia with relevant stakeholders: civil society, local government and industry representatives in the negotiation process in its various stages,
Defining recommendations and opinions on Serbia’s negotiating position, monitoring of compliance with standards and requirements for membership in the various sectors of the negotiating chapters.
Transparent and open dialogue during the screening, development of negotiating positions during the negotiations and in monitoring the implementation of reforms and commitments during the negotiations.
Better and more efficient informing the public about the process of accession negotiations and the consequences (liabilities of the different groups, businesses, citizens ..)
Information on EU decisions and attitudes to the European institutions met with the priorities and views of civil society on specific issues.
National Convention on the EU operates on the principle of partnership between the public sector and institutions directly involved in the negotiation process and the non-state sector and civil society organizations, political parties, academia, business, media and the general public.
Bearing in mind more demanding phases of the journey of the Republic of Serbia towards the European Union, NCEU will be focused on monitoring the implementation of the priorities that are clearly defined in the European Partnership and the National Program for Integration, whose yearly overview is listed in the Progress Report. Where possible, the Working Group NCEU will be looking at new EU Treaty, the Lisbon strategy and other strategic priorities and policies of the European Union.
NCEU focuses on the quality of the adopted laws, strategies and plans, rather than a prime number, as well as to maintain the basic function – a forum for public debate on the most important and often neglected reform issues on the road to the EU, as well as a mechanism for defining recommendations and suggestions made by civil society and the business sector decision-makers.
NCEU consists of the Presidency, the Program Council and 21 working groups. Working groups consist of at least 30 members representing all stakeholders (representatives of government initiatives, NGOs, professional associations, businesses and other community groups).
Method of work of the NCEU:
Plenary Sessions of the NCEU are held at least once a year in cooperation with the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia, aimed at facilitating and achieving the widest possible public access throughout the entire course of negotiation process and the accession to the European Union, comparing and evaluating progress made in all Chapters, pointing out the weaknesses in the process of creation and implementation of reform measures. All members of NCEU participate on the Plenary sessions, members of Presidency, Program Council and all Working groups.
Meetings of the Working Groups (WG) follow the process and the dynamics of the negotiations, in accordance with the established process of consultation between the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia and the OCD. Each special session RG NKEU may be preliminary consultative meeting on important issues that are yet to be considered, and/or part of the analysis of the effects of realized/agreed (briefing and de-briefing). In this sense NKEU plays a role of consultative mechanism, institutionalized open dialogue and an effective mechanism for monitoring of everything that is agreed and achieved, and that during the entire course of negotiations with the EU. Rapporteur, corresponding Negotiating Group or negotiating team is present at every meeting of the Working Group, while OCD coordinator provides expert commentary and moderates discussion with members of the WG. Sessions are held in the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia, and occasionally outside of Belgrade. It is planned that in the first year each of the working groups organises at least one session. Themes, participants and date determined by the coordinator in accordance with the schedule of screening, the results of the report of the screening, the opening of negotiations on chapters and information about the negotiating positions of Serbia. There is also the possibility of holding meetings with topics that are the result of the comparative analysis of the experiences of other countries or with guest keynote speakers who were negotiating teams of their respective countries. Meetings of WGs are open to the media and the public.
Conclusions and recommendations of RG are formulated to represent the quality and meaningful contribution, suggestion and contribution of civil society development of negotiating positions of Serbia during the negotiations, and / or a proposal for corrective measures during the implementation of the commitments and the establishment of new standards. CSO Chair will draft conclusions and forward the relevant institutions, the Chair of the Negotiating Group, the Minister for EU chief negotiator, president of the Committee for European Integration of the National Assembly. Conclusions and recommendations will be made publicly available and distributed for the purpose of timely information to the public and raising awareness about the reforms and measures, and their impact on everyday life and the overall development of Serbia.
Project is financed by: Open Society Foundation and European Union Program Civil Society Facilitation.
Project is supported by the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia, the Delegation of the European Union to the Republic of Serbia and the Serbian European Integration Office.