In recent years, Serbia has made progress in strengthening the legal and policy environment for emergency response and risk reduction. Key milestones include the adoption of the following: (i) the Law on Emergency Situations (2009); (ii) the Law on Amendments to the Law on Emergency situations to integrate the concept of risk reduction (2011); and (iii) the National Strategy in the field of emergency management and disaster risk reduction (2011). This document called for the development of a National Action Plan within 6 months after the adoption of the Strategy, but this Action Plan has not been developed to date. Numerous by-laws were adopted which will regulate the protection and rescue system to more detail. Law on emergency Situations closely regulates the protection and rescue of people, material and other resources in emergency situations; method of organizing, managing, and coordinating the activities of protection and rescue; rights, duties, training participants in protection and rescue as well as monitoring the implementation of this law. In accordance with the new Law on Emergency Situations, National Strategy for Protection and Rescue and disaster risk reduction was adopted. Currently, additional strategic documents are in the process of adoption – the National Vulnerability/Risk Assessment and the National Protection and Rescue Plans. In December 2010, Regulation on establishment of the National Emergency Management Headquarters was adopted, according to which commander of the National Emergency Management HQ is the Minister of the Interior, and the members of staff are ministers/secretaries of state of other relevant ministries and representatives of public enterprises and scientific research institutions, civil organizations and media. NEMH meets regularly. Given the fact that the NEMH is permanent body, in January 2013 it assumed the role of National platform for disaster risk reduction in accordance with the recommendations of the UN.
In alignment with international legislation and priorities, Serbia has enacted new legislation related to water and hydrometeorology which incorporates important elements of Disaster Risk Management. As a potential candidate country for membership with the European Union, Serbia has made efforts to harmonize its legislation with EU regulations. For example, the new Law on Water (2010) is largely consistent with the EU Water Framework Directive (EU WFD) as well as the EU Floods Directive (EFD). The EFD requires EU member states to establish floods risk management plans for river basin districts which includes the development of floods hazard and risk maps. The Law on Meteorological and Hydrological activity (2010) has integrated strategic priorities of the World Meteorological Organizations (WMO).
This law provides the legal framework for weather forecasting, early warning, and the use of weather and climate related information for risk assessments.
Despite progress, however, Serbia’s current legislation has limitations and implementation remains slow. For example, the new Law of Water has transferred the responsibilities of the majority of torrential floods to local municipalities (as they are responsible for “level 2” water courses). These municipalities, however, often lack the technical knowledge and the financial means to comply with the Law and take the necessary actions. This, in turn, contributes to the increase of floods risk, particularly in Serbia’s mountainous regions. In terms of implementation of DRM related legislation, Serbia remains focused on emergency response, while the concept of preparedness remains to be operationalized.