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Serbia

e-civic engagement (RS0041)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Serbia Action Plan 2018-2020

Action Plan Cycle: 2018

Status: Active

Institutions

Lead Institution: Ministry of Public Administration and Local Self-Government, Office for Information Technologies and e-Government

Support Institution(s): SDC, GIZ, CRTA

Policy Areas

E-Government, Legislation & Regulation, Legislature, Public Participation

IRM Review

IRM Report: Serbia Design Report 2018-2020

Starred: Pending IRM Review

Early Results: Pending IRM Review

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Civic Participation Technology

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion:

Description

COMMITMENT 14: Creating legal basis and implementing an electronic system for e-civic
engagement
Q2 2018 - Q2 2020
Lead implementing agency Ministry of Public Administration and Local Self-Government
Office for Information Technologies and e-Government
Description of Commitment
Problem addressed by the
commitment
The Constitution of the Republic of Serbia guarantees citizens the
right to propose laws. On the other hand, the Law on Referendum
and Civic Initiatives guarantees citizens the right to propose
amendments to the Constitution, laws, other regulations and
general acts within the purview of the National Assembly and the
assemblies of autonomous provinces, municipalities or cities, to
call for referendum on specific issues and submit other petitions in
accordance with the Constitution, laws and statutes. However,
citizens have no means of swift, ready and simple participation in
these processes. The currently applicable law from 1994 imposes
very strict conditions for citizens’ participation in these processes.
60
Citizens therefore rarely opt to exercise their rights by submitting
civic initiatives or supporting certain civic initiatives.
Main objective As the Law on Referendum and Civic Initiatives is currently being
amended, one step further should be made and all existing forms
of civic engagement should be enabled electronically. Developed
online models for civic participation should be copied and citizens
should be allowed to submit initiatives and/or petitions
themselves, using a single platform.
How will this commitment
contribute to problem solving?
According to a survey conducted by the organisation CRTA, very
few citizens believe their personal engagement can change
anything in their society and their environment. On the other hand,
the same survey reported a mild increase in the share of citizens
who stated a desire and willingness to actively influence decisionmaking processes (from 25%, in 2014 this share increased to 34%
in 2016). Accordingly, it should be made possible for citizens to
participate in social processes in an easy, simple and efficient
manner.
A specific aspect of this commitment is that it would allow
citizens to submit initiatives and/or petitions by themselves using
this mechanism, which would be forwarded to the competent
institutions for discussion and decision-making if they are
supported by sufficient online signatures.
The way in which this
commitment is relevant to
further advancing OGP values
Implementation of electronic forms of civic engagement would
improve citizens’ participation in the decision-making process.
The existing forms of civic engagement do not keep up with the
trends in terms of electronic participation and e-communications
and has been shown on several occasions to be too complicated
for broad civic participation.
Additional information The Action Plan on Implementation of the Public Administration
Reform Strategy 2018-2020 provides for the commissioning of a
comparative practice study and subsequent amendments to the
Law on Civic Initiatives and Referendum in order to improve
mechanisms for civic engagement.
Activity with a verifiable
deliverable and completion date
Start Date: End Date:
1. Drafting and enactment of a
new Law on Referendum and
Q2 2018 Q4 2019
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Civic Initiatives or amendment of
the existing one to improve
mechanisms for civic engagement
so that the existing forms of civic
engagement can be made
electronically.
2. Drafting of secondary
legislation and development of eapplication(s) which would
accurately enable electronic civic
engagement in accordancre with
the amended or new Law on
Referendum and Civic Initiatives.
Q4 2019 Q2 2020
Contact information
Name of a responsible person in the implementing agency Saša Mogić
Mihailo Jovanović
Title, Department Assistant Minister, Sector for
Local Self-Government System
Director
Email and phone number sasa.mogic@mduls.gov.rs
mihailo.jovanovic@mduls.gov.rs
Other actors
involved
Administration
Civil sector organisations, private sector, SDC, GIZ, CRTA
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working groups

IRM Midterm Status Summary

14. E-civic engagement

Language of the commitment as it appears in the action plan:

Title: Creating legal basis and implementing an electronic system for e-civic engagement

As the Law on Referendum and Civic Initiatives is currently being amended, one step further should be made and all existing forms of civic engagement should be enabled electronically. Developed online models for civic participation should be copied and citizens should be allowed to submit initiatives and/or petitions themselves, using a single platform.

Start Date: Q2 2018

End Date: Q2 2020

For full commitment text, please refer to the National Action Plan at https://www.opengovpartnership.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/Serbia_Action-Plan_2018-2020_EN.pdf

Context and Objectives

The great majority of laws in the Republic of Serbia are initiated by the Government; 344 out of 354 laws in the current legislature were initiated by the Government; five laws were initiated by the National Bank of Serbia, as an independent institution, and the last five by the members of the ruling coalition in the Parliament. No legal acts were initiated by the citizens, although citizens are allowed to do so. [171]

Primarily, the idea of this commitment is to make the entire initiative/petition process easier so that more laws can be initiated by the citizens’ group and tabled for discussion in the National Assembly. It does not deal with the process for undertaking referendums. In terms of tackling the values of the OGP, this commitment is related to the civic participation (cooperation between the public administration bodies and CSOs) and technology and innovation (introducing electronic civic engagement concerning civic initiatives).

According to MPALSG statements, they plan to develop a policy study to map the best e-engagement practices around Europe, which will inform drafting of the law expected to be finalized by the end of 2019. Although the action plan envisions secondary legislation to accompany this law, the representatives of the Ministry are uncertain as to whether this will be the case. [172] Given the inconsistency of the existing law governing this area with the Constitution and the outdated solutions it offers, the Ministry plans to adopt a completely new law.

Finally, after the law is drafted, the electronic application for undertaking civic initiatives will be developed. Although the text of this commitment leaves the possibility for the new law to envisage solutions for e-participation in the case of petitions, MPALSG representatives emphasize that it would not be possible because the Serbian Constitution does not allow for regulating petitions by a law. Besides, there were dilemmas about who will be collecting and processing petitions and how the identity of signatories will be determined. [173] Also, it is still not clear whether the electronic application will be connected to the e-Government portal or to the National Open Data Portal.

Next steps

Civil society representatives from the OGP Working Group also see several critical obstacles in undertaking the process of civic initiative beyond the scope of this commitment. Thus, there is a space for recommending measures for improving commitment and particularly activities in the future. The IRM researchers agree with CSO representatives’ following suggestions for improvements:

  • To the MPALSG, within the new Law on Referendum and Civic Initiatives:
    • Revise and extend the deadline for collecting necessary support regarding the civic initiatives’ procedure from seven days to three months.
    • Define precise content of the demands within the civic initiative (defined problems, proposed options, type of policy document, or legal act);
    • Define the responsibilities of decision-makers, in other words, to define the process and deadline for giving the response to the initiatives undertaken;
  • To the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia:
    • Consider amending the Rule of Procedure in order to determine the timeline for having the civic initiative proposal in the parliamentary procedure;
  • To the legislative bodies on the state (National Assembly), provincial (Assembly of the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina), and local level (city/municipal assemblies):
    • Create an archive of all submitted, planned, and civic initiatives on procedure available on websites.
[171] Tepavac, Tara, National Assembly: Temple or Facade of Democracy, Centre for Research, Transparency and Accountability, Belgrade, 2019, page 6, https://crta.rs/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/Narodna-skup%C5%A1tina-Republike-Srbije-hram-ili-paravan-demokratije.pdf (accessed on 15 March 2019);
[172] Representatives of the MPALSG, interviewed by the IRM researcher, date: 18 February 2019;
[173] Representatives of the Office for Information Technology and e-Government, interviewed by the IRM Researcher, 19 February 2019.

Commitments

  1. Increasing transparency and participation in parliament

    RS0042, 2018, Civic Space

  2. Publishing Budget Law

    RS0028, 2018, E-Government

  3. e-calendar for financing civil society

    RS0029, 2018, E-Government

  4. publish data on environmental protection funds

    RS0030, 2018, Capacity Building

  5. opening data for public calls for media development

    RS0031, 2018, E-Government

  6. open data reports on CSOs

    RS0032, 2018, E-Government

  7. amending media registration bylaws

    RS0033, 2018, E-Government

  8. Assistance with and monitoring of adoption of LAP

    RS0034, 2018, Anti-Corruption Institutions

  9. Updating of electoral roll

    RS0035, 2018, E-Government

  10. ePAPER

    RS0036, 2018, E-Government

  11. e-notice board

    RS0037, 2018, E-Government

  12. Improving proactive transparency – Information Booklet

    RS0038, 2018, E-Government

  13. Access to Information Law

    RS0039, 2018, Capacity Building

  14. cooperation with CSOs on regulations

    RS0040, 2018, Capacity Building

  15. e-civic engagement

    RS0041, 2018, E-Government

  16. Develop a Model of Job Description or Part of Job Description of an Officer Responsible for Cooperation with Civil Society in Local Administration

    RS0014, 2016, Capacity Building

  17. Organise Trainings for Public Administration Officers in Connection with the Application of the Guidelines on Inclusion of Civil Society Organisations in the Process of Passing Regulations

    RS0015, 2016, Capacity Building

  18. Organise Trainings for CSO in Connection with Application of the Guidelines on Inclusion of Civil Society Organisations in the Process of Passing Regulations

    RS0016, 2016, Capacity Building

  19. Improve the System for Collecting Initiatives from Citizens and Businesses

    RS0017, 2016, Capacity Building

  20. Introducing Standards for Civic Participation in the Public Policy Management System

    RS0018, 2016, Capacity Building

  21. Improving Proactive Transparency – Information Booklet

    RS0019, 2016, Capacity Building

  22. Amendments to the Law on Free Access to Information of Public Importance

    RS0020, 2016, Legislation & Regulation

  23. Development of an Open Data Portal

    RS0021, 2016, Capacity Building

  24. Draft a Bylaw Based on the Guidelines for Evaluation of Websites

    RS0022, 2016, Capacity Building

  25. Improve the Institute of Public Hearing in the Drafting of Laws

    RS0023, 2016, Legislation & Regulation

  26. Development of a Uniform Methodology for Planning, Monitoring and Performance Evaluation of Programmes and Projects Implemented by Civil Society Organisations and Monitoring the Spending of Allocated Funds

    RS0024, 2016, Capacity Building

  27. Amend the Regulation on Funds to Support Programmes or Missing Amount of Funds for Programmes of Public Interest Implemented by Associations

    RS0025, 2016, Capacity Building

  28. Enactment of a Law on Electronic Documents, Electronic Identification and Trusted Services in Electronic Business

    RS0026, 2016, Capacity Building

  29. Establish a Single Public Register of Administrative Procedures and Other Conditions for Pursuing a Business Activity

    RS0027, 2016, Capacity Building

  30. Transparency in Monitoring Budget Expenditures

    RS0001, 2014, Capacity Building

  31. Law on Financing Political Activities

    RS0002, 2014, Legislation & Regulation

  32. Transparent Public Procurement Procedures

    RS0003, 2014, Open Contracting and Procurement

  33. Transparent Financing of Civil Society Organizations

    RS0004, 2014, Civic Space

  34. Extending and Clarifying Responsibilities of the Anti-Corruption Agency

    RS0005, 2014, Anti-Corruption Institutions

  35. Whistleblower Protection Trainings and Campaigns

    RS0006, 2014, Legislation & Regulation

  36. Draft Law Regulating Inspections in Public Administration

    RS0007, 2014, Audits and Controls

  37. e-Governmental Portal Awareness and Mobile Application

    RS0008, 2014, E-Government

  38. Starred commitment Public Administration Website Harmonization and Amendments to the Law on Free Access to Information of Public Importance

    RS0009, 2014, E-Government

  39. New Technologies to Improve Citizen Services

    RS0010, 2014, E-Government

  40. Cooperation with Civil Society Organizations in Public Policymaking

    RS0011, 2014, Civic Space

  41. Citizen Participation in Local Government Affairs

    RS0012, 2014, Public Participation

  42. Civil Society Participation in Monitoring the Public Administration (PAR) Strategy

    RS0013, 2014, Audits and Controls