The COVID-19 pandemic hit the Western Balkans right during a period of accelerating economic activity and a promising economic outlook for 2020. The rapid spread of the virus forced the governments of the Western Balkans countries to introduce protective measures, lockdowns, and temporary business shutdowns. These restrictions had a devastating direct economic impact on a wide range of sectors – particularly the hospitality and transport industries – and the measures had many indirect side effects that significantly decreased economic activity.
As of 12 October 2020, the Register of Healthcare Institutions is kept at the Business Registers Agency of the Republic of Serbia (“SBRA”), in accordance with the new Health Care Act, which entered into force on 11 April 2019. This means that health care institutions have the obligation to register in the Register of Health Care Institutions, which is kept at the SBRA as of today. In addition to this register, SBRA will keep a single record of entities in health care, which will contain consolidated data on health care institutions and private practice on the territory of the Republic of Serbia.
On 23 December 2019, the National Assembly adopted the Public Procurement Act (‘’Official Gazette of RS’’ No. 91/2019 – hereinafter the “PP Act”) that started to apply as of 1 July 2020. The PP Act replaced the previous version of the Public Procurement Act and introduced numerous novelties that significantly change the public procurement landscape.
Just as we entered the year of 2020, the Serbian Government enacted the new Regulation on Incentives to Investors for Production of Audio-visual Works in the Republic of Serbia (“Regulation”). The motives for enacting a new Regulation were the encouragement of investments and increasing employment in the field of audiovisual production, as well as the promotion of the potential of the Republic of Serbia in the said field.
On 10 August 2020, the Commissioner for Information of Public Importance and Personal Data Protection (the “Commissioner“) issued an official statement confirming that the recently annulled mechanism for the free transfer of personal data to the United States (better known as the “Privacy Shield Framework”) cannot be considered a lawful basis for the transfer of personal data anymore.
On 16 July 2020, Court of Justice of the European Union (“CJEU”) has rendered a landmark decision declaring the Decision 2016/1250 of the European Commission on the adequacy of the protection provided by the EU-US Data Protection Shield (“Privacy Shield Framework”) invalid with the immediate effect. This decision has caused a major shift in the way in which personal data may be transferred to the United States of America. However, the scope of the decision is far broader and includes far more restrictions than it may appear at first glance.
On 26 June 2020, the Government of Serbia adopted a decree* allowing citizens to obtain cadastre excerpts at the notary public office or at a geodetic organisation. Hence, when citizens are in need of the public notary services or of services provided by the geodetic organisation, it will be possible from now on to finalize the procedure in the public notary’s or geodetic organization’s office.
Recently we have received many inquiries from our clients regarding the e-signature regulations applicable in Serbia. The possibility of using an electronic signature has been especially explored since the outbreak of COVID 19 pandemic, due to the fact that working from home and social distancing have become a part of our everyday life. Below you will find some key considerations regarding the use of electronic signatures in Serbia.
Ever since General Data Protection Regulation (Regulation (EU) 2016/679, “GDPR”) entered into force in 2018, companies around the world have put their best effort in achieving full compliance. Despite their best efforts, some companies have found themselves on the receiving end of enormous fines imposed by their national Data Protection Authorities.
As a negative social phenomenon, corruption is present everywhere in the world and is often the topic of legal, sociological, political and philosophical debates. One of the most comprehensive definitions of corruption was offered by the economist Vito Tanci, who believes that corruption exists if there is a deliberate violation of the principle of impartiality in decision-making in order to gain some benefit.
As we witness the progress of technological achievements in our society, certain advancements in this field may give cause for concern in others, such as privacy and personal data protection laws. Although facial recognition technology has been around for a while, an increasing number of countries are starting to implement this technology in dealing with the ongoing pandemic. Its use is not limited only to special circumstances such as health emergencies; its use far exceeds a narrow scope of crises and extends into anything from preventing terrorist activities to keeping track of class attendance at school. Naturally, while this technology should be welcomed as its possibilities are further explored, there is a legitimate reason for legislators to stay alert, approach regulation of this issue carefully, and not abolish the privacy rights of citizens.
The Alternative Investment Funds Act (“Act”) came into force on 19 October 2019 and applies as of 20 April 2020, while the provisions governing small investors and public offering will be applicable from 1 January 2021, and the provision governing cross-border activity will be applicable from the date of accession of the Republic of Serbia to the European Union. Besides harmonization of the Serbian law with EU law, one of the main aims for adopting the Act was the improvement of the Serbian financial market and development of micro, small, and medium-sized businesses (MSMEs).
Since the state of emergency was declared in Serbia on 15 March 2020, the status of foreign citizens has been uncertain. This is because the Directorate for Foreigners has been closed for serving parties at the counters (as well as all other public institutions except for Tax Administration, Customs Administration and Treasury Department). Due to the fact that the Directorate for Foreigners has not yet introduced the possibility of submitting requests and documentation electronically, foreign citizens residing in Serbia were basically unable to initiate proceedings in order to regulate their stay.