The „Green Chair“ represents a mechanism which enables the participation of civil society organizations in the work of the National Assembly’s Committee for the Protection of the Environment. This mechanism is active from 5 June 2013, and has since become an integral part of the Committee’s work, in a way that representatives of CSOs have been present in as many as 15 meetings and 5 public hearings called upon by the Committee. In a series of informal meetings with international organizations in Serbia, the “Green chair” mechanism was praised as being the only of its kind currently active, as well as very useful against the backdrop of upcoming negotiations with the EU within the chapter 27 framework.
In the work of the coordination meeting members of the Committee for the Protection of the Environment, MPs who are interested in matters of environment protection, and CSOs representatives who are already present at the Committee’s activities all took part, along with journalists.
Meeting was opened by Mr. Branislav Blažić, Committee President, who presented the plan of activities for the upcoming period. In his words, environment protection is not only a request coming from “Europeans”, but should also be our top priority.
For the EU the environment is “number one”, while we still don’t know how important it should be to all of us. (Branislav Blažić)
Blažić announced increased control of the Executive, and greater cooperation with the CSOs. ”If there is a need we will have a special phone number, separate e-mail – we and you should meet more often”, said Blažić. He pointed out how disappointed he feels over the current situation and the fact that – against EU’s wishes – no separate Environment Ministry has been created. Blažić feels how the mechanism should be active not only when the Committee convenes, but also when any law is being put in procedure concerning the environment.
“Only transparency and openness can alter (help) the environment.”
Next up was Deputy President of the National Assembly Ms. Gordana Čomić who deliberated extensively over Assembly procedures and ways for cooperation between CSOs and the Parliament.
In 14 years (Ms. Comic has been in the Parliament) not a single law got out of the procedure the same as it was when it went in, pointed out Ms. Čomić.
Meeting continued with examples and experiences of CSO networking, as well as consultations on future coordination and advancement of the mechanism.
There are three main conclusions of the meeting:
- to re-launch a competition for CSOs engagement in the mechanism, with September deadline;
- to keep the “Green chair” mechanism informal, w/out a more complex structure;
- and finally, to start the fundraising process in order to raise capacities of other CSOs interested.