Serbia must speed up reforms in judiciary's independence and responsibility, the freedom of expression, preventing corruption and fight against organised crime, the European Commission said in the latest report on the rule of law in Serbia, the state RTS reported on Monday.
The EC also said that "the cases of threats, intimidation and violence against the journalists were still worrying, especially at the local level," adding that "political and economic influence on media are reasons for concern."
Back to the judiciary, the EC said the process of the Constitutional reforms to empower the independence of the judiciary was on hold at the moment since the Government submitted the initiative for the Constitutional changes to the Parliament in November 2018," the EC report, seen by RTS said.
"Serbia achieved progress in legislative and institutional reforms, while in other areas, it faces a serious delay. There are areas in which the results are visible, while in others there is no advancement," the EC report added.
The EC report also said that "Serbia's authorities announced the next move, the voting in the Parliament plenary session after the general elections in spring of 2020." The EC also recalled that the Venice Commission said the draft of the Constitutional changes was in line with its recommendations.
EC also said that "the current constitutional and legal framework still leaves room for an inappropriate political influence over the judiciary."
"The Government officials, sometimes from the top, continue to publicly comment on ongoing investigations and courts' procedures, as well as individual judges and prosecutors. The campaigns in tabloids target the members of the judiciary known for critical views about the reforms in the judiciary," EC said. It added that there was a serious delay in the coordination of the anti-corruption policy, changes to the Law on Financing of Political Activities and the adoption of the Law on Free Access to Information of Public Importance in comparison to the set deadline.
The EC said Serbia advanced in border managing, including the implementation of the asylum procedure in line with the European standards, in fighting cybercrime, human trafficking and money laundry.
"All the mentioned should produce a better result in fighting organised crime, more pro-active approach in the financial investigations and confiscation of illegally obtained resources," the EC said.
It added that Serbia could open one or two more chapters in accession talks with the European Union in December – chapter four about the free flow of capital, and chapter two of free movements of the labour force.
The chapters 21 on trans-European networks and 14 about traffic policy are still under consideration in Brussels.