Serbia, as a European state on the path to European Union ("EU") accession, must fulfill a series of conditions and obligations before being granted EU membership. The fight against corruption is one of the most significant challenges faced by Serbia and other countries of the Western Balkans in this regard.
Corruption is a complex social, economic and philosophical phenomenon that slows economic development, contributes to governmental instability and undermines democratic institutions. Combatting corruption is extremely important for Serbia, not only because of the country's commitments towards the EU, but in order to uphold the rule of law and create an economically vibrant society that is attractive to domestic and foreign investments.
Serbia ranks 71st out of 167 states in Transparency International's Corruption Perception Index in 2015 and 67th out of 197 states in TRACE International's TRACE Matrix. These rankings place Serbia among countries with widespread corruption, manifested in the following forms: non-transparent privatizations, rigged public tenders, fraud, bribery and other forms of abuse of power. The aforementioned results lead to the conclusion that previous anti-corruption activities and measures have not been effective in changing the culture of corruption that exists in the country.
However, it is important to emphasize that Serbia has achieved significant progress in the past 12 years, especially in the legislative area. But despite all the progress, there is still much work to be done. Serbia continues to lack laws that govern lobbying or influencing government officials during decision making processes. Additionally, existing laws, such as the Law on Anticorruption Agency, Law on Financing of Political Activities, and Criminal Code, are in sore need of improvement. To move further along the path to EU accession, Serbia must address these issues.
By Milica Filipovic, Associate, Karanovic & Nikolic