Legislative authorities in Serbia fulfill 59 percent indicator of openness

Parliaments in the region fulfill approximately 63 percent of the openness criteria which is not a satisfactory result. As in the case of the executive, the legislative bodies in the region have no strategic approach to openness policy. The requirements of openness can only be indirectly inferred from the Constitution, Rules of Procedure and other acts, and as such are subject to different interpretations and actions of the parliamentary majority. Therefore, the parliaments in the region should sign the Declaration on Parliamentary Openness and work towards its implementation.

Parliaments are generally not transparent in terms of disclosure of information from committees’ sessions and generally do not meet even the minimum international standards of budget transparency. Parliaments in the region should strengthen their representative function through the exercise of direct communication with citizens and their involvement in the policy making process. Parliaments should work on development of electronic services. Consistent implementation of Codes of Ethics is crucial for raising the level of political accountability and public confidence in the work of parliaments. However, while some parliaments in the region have not adopted Codes of Ethics, others not actively promote nor effectively implemented it. Research shows parliaments in the region set up a series of the mechanisms for parliamentary control over the executive but implementaion is mostly formal.

Analysis of legislative power in the Republic of Serbia included the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia and the Assembly of the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina and showed that legislative authorities meets the 59 percent indicator of openness. This result points to the possibility of significantly improving of the openness.

The legal framework that allows openness of legislative power to the citizens is in place and substantially complies with international standards. Transparency of the work of the National Assembly is provided via television broadcasts, as well as through the Internet.

Meetings of the committees and other working bodies of the National Assembly are broadcast live over the Internet, with the possibility of a later review in the archives. Also, draft legislation, adopted laws and other documents submitted to the National Assembly are published on the website of the National Assembly as well as voting results of plenary sessions. The same practice was marked in the case of the Vojvodina Assembly, except for the fact that there is no livestream of plenary sessions and committee meetings as well as stenographic notes.

However, submitted amendments are not available on the website of the National Assembly, as opposed to the site of the Vojvodina Assembly which publishes amendments to for the past six months. However, documents and voting records from committee sessions are not available in case of both institutions. Public procurement is highly regarded, but legislative bodies do not publish contracts and annexes to contracts with suppliers.

However, the legislative bodies do not use sufficiently the ability to communicate with citizens through social networks. The legislative bodies do not have mechanisms for collecting citizens inputs on draft laws and there is space for improvement of interaction with the citizens in the process of adopting the law. The legislative authorities comply with regulations but do not use the opportunities for improving the quality of the legislative process through public involvement. Public participation and civil society in public hearings and in particular the work of parliamentary committees is an example of good practice, but, as rare, can not be characterized as usual manner of communication with citizens. Legislative organs have not established mechanisms for the e-petition or developed plans to promote the mechanism of e-petitions via the Internet and social networks.

Not National nor Provincial Assembly have adopted Code of Ethics, which sets standards of integrity and code of conduct of MPs and is crucial to raise the level of political accountability and public confidence in the work of the institutions.

A particular problem is the cooperation between the National Assembly and independent state bodies. In the last two years, reports of independent bodies were not discussed at the sessions of the National Assembly. Such behavior affects the effectiveness of the National Assembly, the reputation of the Assembly and independent body in public, but also to the promotion of democracy and the rule of law.

Full analysis can be read here.