A meeting of the Working Group of the National Convention on the EU (NCEU) for Chapter 28 (Consumer and Health Protection) was held at the premises of the Center for European Policy (CEP), led by CEP. Besides the representatives of the member organizations of the Working Group, the meeting was attended by the representatives of the Ministry of Trade, Tourism and Telecommunications and representatives of the Ministry of Health.
The session was opened by Dusan Protic, program manager of CEP and coordinator of the Working Group, with a brief analysis of the summary of the Draft of Negotiating Position for this Chapter. He stressed that we are currently in the consultative phase, while the phase of formal adoption of the Negotiating Position is yet to come.
Nebojsa Lazarević, a member of the Negotiating Team in charge of chapters 1, 3 and 28, informed participants about current situation, the planned activities and the process ahead of the opening of the chapter.
“We can expect this Negotiating Chapter to be officially opened in the second half of 2018,” Lazarević said, but also warned of the problems that could slow down and postpone its closure.
“The EU’s attitude is clear – unless there is progress in chapters 23 and 24, we cannot expect progress in other chapters,” Lazarević said.
The members of the Working Group identified the dysfunctionality of the Consumer Complaints Register as the biggest problem in the field of consumer and health protection. The Register was made available several years ago, but still cannot respond to the needs and demands of the users. The participants also discussed the problems in the functioning of the Integrated Health Information System (IZIS) and the lack of human capacities for its implementation. The meeting also raised the question of the importance of introducing healthcare employees according to the system of public servants.
The current situation, in which we have the position of the state health insurance monopoly, is unsustainable, experts from the field concluded. It is a system that, in addition to being incompatible with EU practice, is not good for us – without the involvement of the private sector in health and without the existence of a healthy competition, there is a threat that it will start to collapse, and since, if this issue is not initiated at this stage by the European Commission, it will certainly become the latest when Serbia joins the Union, so it is necessary to immediately start regulating the health system.
The meeting was finished with the conclusion that more space should be opened in the relevant ministries for the remarks and proposals of representatives of civil society organizations, and that the Working Group will continue to work on proposals for solutions to all the problems discussed at this meeting.
The National Convention on the European Union is a permanent body within which a thematically structured debate of representatives of state administration, political parties, non-governmental organizations, experts, economists, trade unions and professional organizations is held on Serbia’s accession to the European Union. In the framework of the NKEU, CEP conducts three working groups covering the Negotiating Chapter 1 – Free Movement of Goods, Negotiation Chapter 3 – The Right of establishment and freedom to provide services and Negotiating Chapter 28 – Consumer Protection and Health Protection.