“The process of appointing a new Commissioner for Information of Public Importance and Personal Data Protection should begin without a delay,” said Head of the EU Delegation to Serbia Sem Fabrizi.

At an event to celebrate the Personal Data Protection Day, Fabrizi said the authorities should start the appointment procedure as soon as possible with full respect for professional standards.

The EU ambassador pointed out that the right to privacy protection is part and parcel of chapter 23, dedicated to fundamental rights, whereas in chapter 24, it is a precondition to establishing judicial cooperation and engaging in joint actions with Eurojust.

He reminded that “protection of privacy and our data aren’t mere segments of fundamental rights in the EU; they are a legal obligation that is even further strengthened by the General Data Protection Regulation adopted in 2016 so that Europe may prepare better for the digital age. Over 90% of Europeans say that they want the same rights for data protection in the entire EU, regardless of where their data is being processed,” said Fabrizi.

Deputy Commissioner Stanojla Mandic said that Serbia had fewer reasons for optimism in 2019 as the Personal Data Protection Day is celebrated without a Commissioner and it is still unknown when he or she would be appointed.

Besides, she added, “many say that the new Law on personal data protection is confusing.”

She said that the appointment procedure should be changed and made more transparent, that the new law should be reworked. She stressed that the institution of the Commissioner asked several times for a contested

Mandic noted that in 2018 numerous incidents occurred involving unauthorized data processing. She said the process of appointing a new Commissioner needs to be carried out in a transparent manner and to do so as soon as possible. She also stressed that it is necessary to review Commissioner’s reports; otherwise the situation regarding data protection would not improve.

Head of OSCE Mission to Serbia Andrea Orizio said the Data Protection Day is celebrated around the world as a day when human rights are protected, among which the right to privacy and the assumption of security occupy a special place.

He urged the authorities to support the Commissioner’s work, adding that the best form of support would be if a new Commissioner would be appointed in a timely and transparent manner.

Head of Council of Europe’s Mission to Serbia Tobias Flessenkemper said that the Convention 108+ has been upgraded and called on Serbia to sign the Convention on personal data protection.

He stressed the importance of observing international standards and added that in order for everything to function well a new Commissioner should not only be appointed, but to be appointed in a timely manner.

Assistant Secretary General of the Commissioner’s Office Zlatko Petrovic said that the Office received over 7,500 complaints regarding personal data protection in 2018. He noted that 2017 saw many abuses, including birth records and staff documentation being published in media, and pensioners’ data being submitted to certain people who were not authorised to possess them.