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Is the SEE Region Ready for the European digital regulation acts?

June 25, 2024 | by: point

EU laws which address key aspects of the European digital single market (Digital Markets Act, Digital Services Act, The AI Act) was one of the topics discussed during the first day of the POINT 12 Conference. The regulations were debated from the perspective of potential application in the countries of the Western Balkans. As it was said on the panel, the implementation of these laws is a legal requirement in the Western Balkans region as a part of The Stabilisation and Association Agreement.

Photo: Vanja Čerimagić

The panel was moderated by Maida Ćulahović from CA “Why not”. The speakers were Bojana Kostić, human rights and technology researcher and co-founder of media development consultancy Pen & Paper, and Snežana Bajčeta, media and communication expert and researcher at the SHARE Foundation.

Kostić and Bajčeta presented the results of two, still unpublished studies, which looked into the readiness of the region to harmonize with these acts.

Speaking about the research, Bojana Kostić said that the state institutions are still not fully aware of the DSA (Digital Services Act) and its substance.

“They’ve heard of it, they know maybe a thing or two, but generally they lack the actual competencies to engage with the DSA in a meaningful procedural and institutional way. Given that, we still have some time for them to kind of go slowly through the alignment process”, said Kostić.

She emphasized the importance of the question of who will play the role of coordinator of digital services – a body in charge of the DSA implementation on the national level.

“Finally, what was clear to us, is that in some countries, certain institutions are already seeing themselves as potential digital service coordinators. In some countries it goes as far as, like North Macedonia, an institution almost nominated themselves be it, but this body, specifically is selected and nominated through executive branch, which goes against the digital service provisions. In other countries regulators together with the Telco regulators, are competing for the position”, said Kostić.

Snezana Bajceta presented preliminary findings of a research conducted by Share Foundation, in collaboration with five organizations from Western Balkan countries. The study analyzes three European acts (Digital Services Act, Digital Markets Act, and Artificial Intelligence Act) but also offers a comparative insight from the Western Balkans perspective. As she said, study explains the normative foundation, value structure of these acts, their enforcement mechanisms, and institutional framework.

“We have mapped the basic rules related to digital services, digital markets, and artificial intelligence in Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Albania and Kosovo. So the analysis covered a wide range of issues. We have a wide range of different acts and soft law instruments, including laws, bylaws, rules, strategies, decisions, guidelines and so on. So we have assessed the current state – the scope, the level, and the type of regulation concerning these issues across Western Balkan countries”, said Bajceta.

She explained that the study also explores the scope and diversity of existing legislation, as well as the capacity of current regulations to align with European digital values.

She referred to the situation in each country. The findings reveal that rules related to digital services in countries of the Western Balkan region, to a greater or lesser extent, are covered by different documents, but regulations need improvement. A similar situation is with rules related to digital markets.

The results of this research show that there are currently no special regulations regulating the use of AI systems in the region, but compared to neighboring countries, Serbia has made the most progress in regulating them.

Author: Marija Manojlović