Libertarian Club Libek could save nightclubs in Serbia

Rozga mondo stefan stojanovic 47
Photo: Mondo / Stefan Stojanovic

There has been a lot of noise lately when it comes to regulating Serbian nightlife, especially in Belgrade, famous for its club scene. Citizen groups, political parties, and government entities have all proposed different regulations that ultimately are harming the industry. Atlas Network partner Libertarian Club Libek has proposed a free-market solution as an alternative, however — and it just may save jobs and entertainment provided by Serbian nightlife.

So far, government efforts to regulate noisy clubs in Serbia have been insufficient, ineffective, and harmful to all involved. One proposal is a restriction on the hours employees can work; another constrains how long nightclubs can play music. The result is more people out of work and less investment from entrepreneurs. The ad hoc approach also lends itself to corruption.

“Limitations on working hours decrease the revenue and get people fired. We have talked to some owners who sacked up to three-fourths of the employees because of limitations on working hours,” stated Petar Cekerevac, executive manager of Libertarian Club Libek. “Besides huge reduction of employment opportunity and profits, the consumer choice of people who want to relax and have fun in safe environments is reduced, as the music in many venues has to stop at midnight and venues are forced to close at 1 a.m. in many areas, regardless of the noise they emit.”

In fact, projected losses from the regulations are estimated to be at least RSD 5,269,562,714 (USD $50,000,000) annually, equal to the annual salaries of roughly 7,000 people.

Libertarian Club Libek proposed a solution that would remove all restrictions on the number of hours worked, consolidating the tasks of regulation under one agency and creating a zoned system for allocating resources to address the issue of secondary noise. The proposal quickly garnered attention from mainstream media outlets, citizen groups, opposition and political groups that have asked to discuss the issue further.

“We see the debate on noise and nightlife regulations as an opportunity to create space for discussion of city policies in general, rally stakeholders, and promote free-market solutions that are a product of consensus or discussion among the people and not a product of ad hoc political decisions,” said Cekerevac.

Local businesses have also expressed interest in Libertarian Club Libek’s solution, including the Association of Hotel and Restaurant Businesses of Serbia, which endorsed the organization.

Update as of July 18, 2017:

"We met with the VP of one of the main opposition parties in Belgrade, also the main policy influencer of the party (especially on local level)," said Cekerevac in an email. "He said that he agrees with pretty much everything in Libek's proposal and is willing to put this in their party program for the Belgrade elections. He has also said that he would do a blog post about the noise regulation and mention our proposal in it (his blog is quite popular and he is often on TV speaking about politics; he is also a professor at the biggest political science school in the country and a member of the National Parliament of Serbia). The party will also organize a training course for candidates for members of the city parliament and municipal parliaments, and they are interested in including our proposal as a case study in their program."