The Legacy of Legal Culture and Serbia’s European Integration Cover Image

The Legacy of Legal Culture and Serbia’s European Integration

Author(s): Slaviša Kovačević
Subject(s): Law, Constitution, Jurisprudence, EU-Legislation
Published by: Правни факултет Универзитета у Нишу
Keywords: European Union; Serbia; autoritarian legal culture; discontinuity; incongruency; social legal framework

Summary/Abstract: In the context of the EU integration, it is certainly insufficient to harmonize only the positive law and the institutional regulatory framework. In order to provide for the implementation and application of the positive law, the political and legal culture must be congruent with the legal tradition of the European Union. The “implantation” of legal institutes is a fashionable trend common to all transition countries, which fail to recognize a significant and inevitable fact that law is created and applied in the country-specific traditional, cultural and social context. Legal norms achieve their intended purpose only when they are reinforced by a number of other traditional, cultural, political, economic, and social circumstances. Hence, there is a specific functional and structural relation between law and social culture: on the one hand, law is the product of society; on the other hand, law is also the creator of social norms. Consequently, instead of “copying” the legal norms of the European Union, it is necessary to create a social framework for the implementation of applicable, effective and equitable EU law. In addition to nomotechnics, scientific research on the “harmonization of Serbian law with the EU law shall include the analysis of other factors, which are only apparently outside the legal framework but which are important for the general outcome of this process. (1) Our legal culture is largely authoritarian, which is evident in the prevalence of power in the process of making and applying the law and in the dependence of the judicial system from the executive branch of government. Law is an instrument of political power of the legally unaccountable executive branch of government. The authoritarian legal rules are not an expression of reason, prudence, wisdom and general public interest but a temporary constellation of interests of power-holders while the normative activity is a short-term tactics for accomplishing these interests. As the public interest is defined and normatively framed in line with these interests, there are diverse quasi-techniques which reflect the arbitrary application of law. (2) The recent state-building legal history is characterized by a prominent legal discontinuity, which has two forms of expression: first, legal discontinuity is a result of frequent changes of different and often conflicting socio-political systems of government, which are necessarily accompanied by respective changes in the positive legislation; second, discontinuity may also be a result of frequent legislative changes within a specific type of legal system. Such practices give rise to contradictions and polarizations in the legal culture and legal socialization. (3) The common feature of all legal systems (thus far) is the problem of applying the law, or the applicability of the normative framework. The normative legal tradition is not accompanied by the consistent factual application of the envisaged norms. Frequently, there is a prominent incongruity between the norm and the actual state of affairs. In addition to undermining the important function of law, this phenomenon shows the prevalence of traditional legal heritage in Serbian social relations. (4) In comparison to transition countries which have meanwhile been integrated into the European Union, the Serbian society is poverty-stricken, economically devastated, inadequately structured in terms of public/private interests, normatively underdeveloped and value-barren; as such, it is difficult to administer and hard to change. The heritage of socio-economic relations slows down the reception of the liberal-democratic system and the adjustment to the model of competitive market economy. The former model of irrational authority of a powerful leader and a single-party system has been transformed into the partystate system (partocracy) involving the dominant role of the authoritarian party leadership, which slows down the development of independent, autonomous and fully functional state institutions. All these developments undermine the harmonization process which presumes the minimum level of social compatibility between the harmonization model and the society which is being harmonized.

  • Issue Year: LIII/2014
  • Issue No: 68
  • Page Range: 861-874
  • Page Count: 14
  • Language: Serbian