At its 14th meeting, held on 29 November, the Global Organization of Parliamentarians Against Corruption (GOPAC) Serbia National Branch considered the fulfilment of GRECO recommendations and the implementation of the Law on Lobbying in practice.
Representatives of the Anti-Corruption Agency presented the dynamics of the fulfilment of GRECO recommendations to the GOPAC National Branch with, a special focus on the transitional report, i.e. the fourth evaluation round, adopted in March.
The Director of the Anti-Corruption Agency Dragan Sikimic and the Chairperson of the GOPAC Serbia Executive Board Dubravka Filipovski declared the existing cooperation a success, with the Agency Director stressing that the National Assembly is the institution’s key partner. He said that the Agency continues to fulfil the GRECO recommendations which right now concern the amendments of the Constitution and the adoption of relevant laws to follow. The adoption of the Law on Lobbying and the by-laws needed for its implementation was the most important thing in the last evaluation round, while the next will contain everything was done to train and educate the participants in the lobbying process.
Assistants to the Director of the Anti-Corruption Agency Ivana Cvetkovic, Verka Atanaskovic and Jovan Bozovic presented the details of the report of the fourth evaluation round which was significantly more favourable for Serbia. For the next, fifth evaluation round, Serbia needs to fulfil three more obligations relating to prevention of corruption and adoption of MPs’ code of conduct. The Agency representatives opined that the report could be considerably more favourable for Serbia, it would be presented to GRECO in May of next year and contain parts concerning the National Assembly as well. Speaking of the implementation of the Law on Lobbying, the Agency representatives presented the work on by-laws, especially the lobbying code of conduct which aims to protect public interest and affirm lobbying in the purpose of preventing conflict of interest. They paid special attention to the obligations of the National Assembly and its members stemming from the Law once it is put in effect. The by-laws define lobbyists, users and persons being lobbied and how they act in the process, what their rights and duties are. Registered and unregistered lobbyists are obliged to first address the person being lobbied in writing only and supply a contract with the user or verifiable data about themselves which the person being lobbied i.e. functionary of employee in governing bodies, with filled out forms, then submits to the Anti-Corruption Agency. This procedure was deemed an extra step in transparency. To make sure all the sides of the lobbying process are duly informed of their rights and duties the Agency will be organizing trainings for authority holders, including MPs.
The Chairperson of the GOPAC Serbia Executive Board Dubravka Filipovski informed the representatives of the Anti-Corruption Agency that the GOPAC Serbia National Branch had sent a memo to the National Assembly Speaker recommending the establishment of a group to work on the MP’s code of conduct. She added that the National Assembly came closest to having something like that in 2013, however nothing came of it but she believes that the job will be completed in the current National Assembly mandate. Filipovski also said that the objective of the Law on Lobbying is to reduce corruption and praised the timely adoption of by-laws, adding that she cannot wait to see it put into effect to reduce the politicization in the field. GOPAC will address the National Assembly Speaker to ask for a speedy organization of training for the MPs on the implementation of the Law on Lobbying.
The members of GOPAC appealed to the representatives of the Anti-Corruption Agency to take special care in training local authority holders, and the Chairperson of the GOPAC Serbia Executive Board Dubravka Filipovski informed the members that a delegation headed by the National Assembly Speaker will represent Serbia at the next year’s GOPAC annual conference and asked them to take more active part in promoting the activities and results of the Serbia National Branch.
The meeting was attended by members of GOPAC Serbia, MPs Dubravka Filipovski, Elvira Kovacs, Momo Colakovic, Bojan Torbica, Jelena Zaric Kovacevic, Zoran Bojanic, Aleksandra Majkic, Borka Grubor and Dr Milorad Mijatovic.