European Scrutiny Committee Contents

2 Enlargement Strategy and Main Challenges 2009-10

(a) (31017) 14513/09 COM(09) 533

(b) (31018) 14515/09 SEC(09) 1333

(c) (31019) 14516/09 SEC(09) 1334

(d) (31020) 14748/09 SEC(09) 1335

(e) (31021) 14749/09 SEC(09) 1336

(f) (31022) 14751/09 SEC(09) 1337

(g) (31023) 14752/09 SEC(09) 1338

(h) (31024) 14753/09 SEC(09) 1339

(i) (31025) 14754/09 SEC(09) 1340

Commission Communication: Enlargement Strategy and Main Challenges 2009-2010

Progress Report on Croatia

Progress Report on Turkey

Progress Report on the former Yugoslav

Republic of Macedonia

Progress Report on Montenegro

Progress Report on Albania

Progress Report on Bosnia and Herzegovina

Progress Report on Serbia

Progress Report on Kosovo[1]

Legal base
Document originated 14 October 2009
Deposited in Parliament 22 October 2009
DepartmentForeign and Commonwealth Office
Basis of consideration EM of 10 November 2009
Previous Committee Report None; but see (30828) 12386/09 (30829) 12388/09: HC 19-xxvi (2008-09), chapter 22 (10 September 2009)
To be discussed in Council 7-8 December 2009 General Affairs and External Relations Council (GAERC)
Committee's assessment Politically important
Committee's decision (a) Commission Communication 14513/09 for debate in European Committee B; (b)-(i) cleared


2.1 In the introduction, the Commission sees the fifth EU enlargement as having helped to consolidate democracy and the rule of law in Europe, enhanced economic opportunities and increased the weight of the EU in tackling global challenges, and as having demonstrated its capacity to work together to address the important challenges it faces. "Enlargement is one of the most effective foreign policy instruments of the EU."

2.2 The current enlargement process "takes place against the background of a deep and widespread recession": but three new applications for membership by Montenegro (December 2008), Albania (April 2009) and Iceland (July 2009) "further demonstrate the EU's power of attraction and its role in promoting stability, security and prosperity."

2.3 Progress with reforms has allowed the enlargement countries to move through successive stages in the accession process. Accession negotiations with Croatia are "nearing the final phase". Those with Turkey have "reached a more demanding stage requiring a new impetus for reform". The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia "has made significant progress in meeting key challenges." The Commission is preparing Opinions on the application for membership from Montenegro and Iceland, and "stands ready to prepare an opinion on the application from Albania, once invited to do so by Council."

2.4 The countries of the Western Balkans and Turkey have still, to different degrees, "substantial work ahead in meeting the established criteria and conditions. The pace of reform is often slow. The international economic crisis adds to the strains. In several cases, bilateral questions "unduly affect the accession process." In the Western Balkans, regional cooperation remains key and constitutes a central element of the Stabilisation and Association Process.

2.5 The renewed consensus on enlargement, as agreed by the December 2006 European Council, accordingly continues to provide the way forward — "based on the principles of consolidation of commitments, fair and rigorous conditionality and good communication with the public, combined with the EU's capacity to integrate new members."

2.6 The quality of the enlargement process has been improved, with "greater focus … at an early stage to the rule of law and good governance." The accession process "provides strong encouragement for political and economic reform", and serves the EU's strategic interest". Overall, EU enlargement policy "allows for a carefully managed process where candidates and potential candidates approach the EU in line with the pace of their political and economic reforms as well as their capacity to assume the obligations of membership in accordance with the Copenhagen criteria."

2.7 The Treaty of Lisbon, in relation to enlargement, "will ensure an institutional framework that should allow a smooth adaptation of the Union's institutions once a new Member State joins the EU, and will amend the accession procedure, whereby the European Parliament and national parliaments will be notified of applications for membership."

2.8 Establishment of a visa-free regime for the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia at the beginning of 2010, based on the Commission's proposal, will demonstrate that reforms bring tangible benefits for citizens. The Commission will table similar proposals for Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina by mid-2010, "provided these countries meet the conditions set."

2.9 As regards Cyprus, the leaders of the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities are "entering a decisive phase of negotiations on a comprehensive settlement".

The Commission Communication

2.10 Against this background, the Communication sets out the progress made, identifies the key challenges faced by the countries engaged in the enlargement process and outlines the Commission's approach to guiding and supporting their efforts in the coming year. Annex 1 consists of the key points in the latest Progress Reports (styled "Conclusions") on Croatia, Turkey, Macedonia, Montenegro, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Kosovo.[2] In addition, in an accompanying document, the Commission sets out "a path for Kosovo,[3] to further progress towards integration with the EU, in line with the European perspective of the region."

2.11 Individual country progress reports are set out in separate weighty Commission Staff Working Documents.

The Government's view

2.12 In his Explanatory Memorandum of 10 November 2009, the Minister for Europe (Chris Bryant) welcomes the publication of the Commission's reports. He considers them to be "a fair and balanced assessment of progress and the main challenges", and says that they set out "a credible and useful strategy for enlargement policy over the coming year."

2.13 The Minister helpfully summarises the main conclusions and recommendations of the enlargement strategy, and then the individual country progress reports, as follows.


2.14 The global economic crisis "has caused the economies of the Western Balkans and Turkey to contract and their fiscal positions to deteriorate. However, the EU is helping to alleviate the impact of the crisis through pre-accession assistance, working together with International Financial Institutions."

2.15 Strengthening the rule of law "remains a critical challenge — particularly the establishment of independent and impartial judiciaries and adequate measures to tackle corruption and organised crime." The Commission "emphasises the importance it attaches to these issues and commitment to continuing to support the efforts made by the countries concerned and to monitor the results", while the Government "believes that conditionality is an important part of the accession process." On this point, the Minister continues thus:

"It is important that the accession process is fair and rigorous, to ensure that each country's progress is dependant only on meeting the necessary criteria. The Government welcomes the changes that have led to an improvement in the quality of the enlargement process, including an earlier focus on the rule of law and good governance. It is essential to ensure that these elements are tackled early to resolve problems with corruption, organised crime and weak or ineffective judicial systems."

2.16 The strategy notes that "bilateral questions are increasingly affecting the enlargement process, and is firm that bilateral disputes should not hold up the accession process." The Minister agrees that it is important for the integrity of the enlargement process that bilateral disputes are not allowed to delay accession negotiations.

2.17 Regional cooperation is noted as a particular challenge with regard to Serbia and Kosovo.

2.18 With regard to the visa free travel arrangements for nationals from Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia (within the Schenghen area) from the beginning of 2010, and the prospective extension of these arrangements to nationals from Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Minister notes that "UK visa regimes will not be directly affected by these decisions", and observes that visa free travel "is an issue of enormous significance to the governments and people of the region."

2.19 The Minister then summarises the "strategy" component of the Communication for each country as follows:


"The enlargement strategy states that Croatia continued to meet the political criteria and make progress in most areas, including intensified efforts in the field of the rule of law. But in some areas progress has fallen behind the indicative road map for reaching the final stages of negotiations set out last year. A dispute about the Croatia/Slovenia border held back accession negotiations. But nonetheless preparations advanced substantially across the board so that technical negotiations are now nearing their final phase. If Croatia is able to meet the criteria then it should be possible to complete negotiations in 2010.

"Reform efforts need to be stepped up in the areas of judiciary and fundamental rights, in particular as regards the independence and efficiency of the judiciary, the fight against corruption and organised crime, minority rights, including refugee return, and war crimes trials. Public administration reform also requires particular attention.

"Croatia also needs to take all necessary steps to settle the issue of access for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) to important documents. The Government agrees with this assessment. In particular we urge Croatia to do everything possible to demonstrate full cooperation with ICTY."


"The strategy points to some improvement in Turkey's progress in its EU accession reforms. Areas of progress include the adoption of a wide-ranging strategy for judicial reform; moves to improve civil-military relations, particularly in legal jurisdiction; improvement in civil rights; and addressing the Kurdish issue. There has also been further strengthening of Turkey's contribution to stabilisation in the South Caucasus and Middle East, with continuing progress in normalisation with Armenia. Closer energy co-operation has continued to develop, underlining Turkey's growing importance for EU energy. The strategy notes a sound economic basis for EU membership under the ongoing reform programme.

"The strategy also highlights several areas where more progress is needed. Freedom of expression and of the media need to be better protected. There are still specific problems with freedom of religion, though there have been some improvements in the legal framework. Gender equality and trade union rights are also key areas to address. The strategy also notes the continuing need to ensure full, non-discriminatory implementation of the Ankara Agreement Protocol (AAP) i.e. Turkey opening its ports and airports to Cypriot vessels. A total of eight chapters are frozen pending fulfilment of this obligation. In line with the December 2008 GAERC Conclusions the strategy recalls that Turkey's implementation of the AAP is urgent. The Government agrees that the strategy provides a balanced assessment. "


"The strategy notes significant progress and concludes that Macedonia has substantially addressed the benchmarks in its accession partnership. It also notes progress on key issues highlighted in last year's report, notably that presidential and local elections met most international standards and that dialogue between political groups has improved. On the basis of progress in these areas and with wider reforms, the strategy judges that Macedonia sufficiently fulfils the EU's political and economic criteria and recommends opening accession negotiations. The Government supports the Commission's assessment and recommendation.

"The strategy also recalls previous European Council conclusions that maintaining good neighbourly relations, including a negotiated and mutually acceptable solution to the name issue, remains essential. The Government does not see resolution of the name issue as a pre-condition for starting accession negotiations, but hopes that negotiations under the UN on the name issue can continue, intensify and succeed in finding a mutually acceptable solution without further delay."


"The strategy notes that political reforms have continued throughout this period. There has been some progress on judicial reform and implementation of the Interim Agreement continues to go smoothly. The Government agrees with this assessment. The strategy also highlights that Montenegro applied for EU membership in December 2008 with the Council asking the Commission for an opinion on their readiness in April 2009. Montenegro is currently preparing its response to the Commission's initial questionnaire."


"The strategy highlights that the June 2009 Parliamentary elections met most international standards, but further effort will be needed to ensure shortcomings are addressed before subsequent elections. Progress on implementation of the SAA which entered into force this year is, on the whole, progressing smoothly. The strategy reaffirms the Commission's readiness to start preparations on its opinion on Albania's EU application once invited by the Council. It also highlights that further progress is needed in the fight against corruption and to ensure the proper functioning of state institutions, particularly the independence of the judiciary. Overall the Government agrees with this assessment, and would like Albania's EU application to progress to the next technical step of the accession process. This would mean the Council asking the Commission for its opinion on Albania's readiness to begin negotiations."


"The strategy highlights that this has been a year of limited progress on the reform agenda in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), and the urgent need to speed this up. The Government agrees with this assessment. The strategy raises concerns about the ongoing ethnic nationalist rhetoric and challenges to state institutions that have led to a marked deterioration in the political climate. The strategy underlines that an application for membership could only be considered once the five objectives and two conditions for closure of the Office of the High Representative (OHR) have been met, and OHR closed. The Commission also points to the need for constitutional reform before it could consider a recommendation for Candidate Status, and urges BiH political leaders to make progress on this."


"The strategy recognises Serbia's commitment to EU integration with the unilateral implementation of the Interim Agreement on trade since January 2009 and key political reforms in line with EU standards. In recognition of this and the sustained co-operation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) the report includes a recommendation by the Commission that the Interim Agreement should be implemented by the EU. The Government supports this recommendation. The strategy further recognises Serbia's co-operation with EULEX in Kosovo but concludes that further efforts need to be made particularly regarding the operation of EULEX in northern Kosovo. The Government believes the assessment in the strategy is fair and accurate."


"The strategy highlights the importance of the European perspective for Kosovo for the wider region and how improvement of living conditions is crucial for Kosovo's population and regional stability. The strategy is clear that substantial further progress is required to reach European standards, in particular in the rule of law, the fight against corruption and organised crime, the strengthening of administrative capacity and enhancing dialogue and reconciliation between the communities. The Government endorses this assessment. The strategy highlights the increased financial assistance available through EU Instrument for Pre-Accession funding which Kosovo must make improved use of through delivering on its reform commitments. Against this background, the strategy refers to the Commission's recent study — "Kosovo fulfilling its European Perspective." The study provides clear guidance and conditional incentives for Kosovo to further its political and socio-economic development and is welcomed by the UK. This study will be covered in a separate Explanatory Memorandum. " 


"The strategy also covers Iceland, which applied to join the EU in July 2009. Iceland is already a well-established democracy and member of the European Economic Areas (EEA) and the Schenghen Area. The strategy mentions that Iceland's track record in implementing her obligations under the EEA agreement will be an essential part of the Commission's assessment on Iceland's eligibility to join the EU. The UK supports this position. As the Committee will be aware a revised Icesave loan bill is currently being debated in the Icelandic Parliament."

2.20 The Minister then summarises the individual Country Progress Reports as follows:


"In general, the report is a fair and balanced assessment of Croatia's progress in the last year, which the Government agrees with. The report notes the border dispute between Croatia and Slovenia which held back the accession negotiations, until October 2009, when a number of chapters moved forward at an Intergovernmental conference. The report rightly states that bilateral issues should not hold back the accession process.

"Progress that led to a substantial number of chapters being opened and closed at the Inter-governmental conference in October is welcomed, but the report states that delays in Croatia itself have meant that certain chapters (in particular, judiciary and fundamental rights, competition and transport) have not progressed as far as hoped. Nevertheless, the report states that negotiations are nearing their final phase. We agree that negotiations have progressed over the past year. However, further work is required. In particular, improvement is needed in the judiciary, the fight against corruption and organised crime, and public administration reform.

"On public administration reform some progress has been achieved, in particular, legislation has been passed aimed at supporting the establishment of service-oriented and professional administrative practice and a new post of Minister for Administration has been created. However, public administration reform has so far not received sufficient political attention.

"Major weaknesses in administrative procedures remain, the civil service continues to suffer from many shortcomings, such as politicisation and low salaries etc and decision making tends to be highly centralised, with limited delegation, leading to inefficiencies. Anti-corruption measures and ethical principles also remain to be embedded in public administration. On the judiciary, reforms have continued, however many challenges remain. Judicial independence needs to be improved, and a transparent selection procedure for judges and prosecutors introduced. The length of proceedings and enforcement of decisions also needs to be improved. Impunity for war crimes remains a problem. On the fight against corruption there has been some progress. Implementation of the Anti-Corruption Strategy and related Action Plan has continued, and the legal framework further improved. A National Police Office for the Fight Against Corruption and Organised Crime (PNUSKOK) has been operational since February 2009 and has begun investigating possible high level corruption. However, corruption is still prevalent in many areas. The recently upgraded legal and administrative structures remain to be tested in practice, and the actual number of prosecutions in corruption cases remains low. There has also been limited investigation of high level corruption. Anti-corruption tools are not being deployed with sufficient vigour, especially on political corruption.

"On human and minority rights, civil and political rights continue to be reasonably well respected in Croatia, with some specific exceptions. Impunity for war crimes remains a problem, particularly where the victims are ethnic Serbs, access to justice needs to be improved and freedom of expression ensured. Legal protection for economic and social rights is partially guaranteed, however, implementation of women's and children's rights need to be improved. In addition, although protection of minority rights has improved, further work is needed, particularly concerning Serb and Roma minority rights. Progress was made on outstanding refugee return issues, but efforts to provide housing solutions and ensure sustainability of refugee return need to be accelerated.

"Co-operation with ICTY remains a key Accession Partnership priority. The report rightly notes the ongoing problems of access for ICTY to important documents in Croatia and states that Croatia must take all necessary steps to settle this issue.

"More widely on technical reforms, good progress is noted in most areas. Further efforts are still required in regards to certain chapters of negotiation e.g. free movement of capital, company law and justice, freedom and security."


"Overall, we agree with the tone of the progress report on Turkey — it is a fair and balanced assessment. It recognises positive steps forward by Turkey with several reforms since the previous report, while stressing areas where further reforms are needed.

"Credit is given for key EU-related reforms such as a wide-ranging judicial reform strategy after a process of consultation; limiting the jurisdiction of military courts; improvement of the legislative framework to prevent corruption; the opening up of a public debate on the Kurdish issue, and work to improve Kurdish cultural rights; and improved observance of international human rights law. There has also been some progress in public procurement, taxation, economic and financial policy. Turkey has made further contributions to the stabilisation of regions such as the South Caucasus (including with ongoing progress on normalisation of relations with Armenia) and the Middle East.

"However, the report notes that significant further reforms by the Turkish government are needed in several areas and calls on Turkey to step up the pace of these reforms. Crucially, the ratification of a number of human rights instruments remains outstanding, and the institutional framework for protecting human rights needs strengthening. Freedom of expression and of the media are not sufficiently protected. The new laws on foundations have benefited freedom of religion, but specific concerns remain to be addressed, along with establishment a proper legal framework. The legal framework for women's rights is now largely in place but needs to be followed up with implementation, while children's rights needs wide-ranging attention. Legislation on trade union rights remains outstanding. The report also notes the continuing need to ensure full implementation of the Ankara Agreement Protocol — opening Turkey's ports and airports to Cypriot vessels. — this year referring to the issue as urgent in line with the December 2008 GAERC Conclusions."


"The report is in line with the Government's assessment of progress in Macedonia. It notes that Macedonia is implementing all its current commitments under its Stabilisation and Association Agreement and proposes moving on to the second phase of implementation. The report highlights improvements in the functioning of the parliament and in political dialogue, including stronger efforts to seek consensus in adopting key EU-related legislation. It notes improvement of election conduct, with presidential and local elections meeting most international standards. The report details improvements too in reform of the public administration, police and judiciary, as well as good progress in tackling corruption.

"The report also highlights where further reform efforts should be focussed. This includes continued work to implement the Ohrid Framework Agreement (the basis for inter-ethnic relations in Macedonia). It encourages further efforts to reform the public administration and judiciary, and in the continued fight against corruption. The government believes that Macedonia should now address these issues as it goes forward in the accession process.

"The report notes Macedonia's good relations and co-operation with its neighbours (following an agreement with Kosovo it is now the only country in the Western Balkans with fully demarcated borders).

"Macedonia's relations with Greece continue to be close, though affected by the unresolved 'name issue': the report encourages Macedonia to avoid actions and statements that could negatively impact on good neighbourly relations and notes the importance of finding a mutually acceptable solution to the name issue through UN negotiations. The report indicates that Macedonia has experienced a slowdown in the economy, reflecting lower external demand, but that this has been slight and the economy remains stable. High unemployment remains a challenge."


"The report is in line with the Government's assessment of progress in Montenegro. Montenegro continues to make improvements in addressing the political criteria. Montenegro's approach to regional co-operation is exemplary. There have also been further improvements on the legislative framework although implementation of legislation is varied. Overall Montenegro has continued make progress in most areas. But the report highlights where more work is needed; in particular there is concern about political interference in the judiciary and prosecution service. Freedom of the media is also a concern, which is well covered in the report.

"On organised crime, the report records some progress. Institutional, legal and administrative capacity has been strengthened and there have been improvements to the legislation on criminal procedure. But the capacity of the police and judiciary to deal with such cases remains limited. The report identifies several areas where more work is required, and, overall, organised crime remains a matter of serious concern.

"The report records some progress in tackling corruption, particularly with regard to the strengthening of legislative and administrative framework. But the commitment of the authorities in this area has not yet been backed by consistent implementation of anti-corruption legislation and corruption remains an area of concern."


"The report is in line with the Government's assessment of progress in Albania. The central message in the report is that, while important progress has been made, substantial further reform will be required if Albania is to meet EU standards. The report also regrets the deterioration in the culture of dialogue between the main political parties . Dialogue is a key European Partnership priority and will be needed to get the reform agenda back on track and the Parliament functioning effectively.

"The report highlights the tangible progress made in preparation for the Parliamentary elections in June on voter identification with the introduction of ID cards, biometric passports and an electronic civil registry. Progress was also highlighted in the legal framework for the elections, based on the constitutional changes and new electoral code passed by parliament during 2008.

"The report also notes positive progress in the economic field in relation to preparing for the internal market of the EU and important progress in bilateral relations with other enlargement countries and neighbouring EU members — an obligation under the Stabilisation and Association Agreement.

"The report also recognises areas where progress has been limited, and areas where Albania should focus its efforts over the coming year. With regard to the judiciary, key pieces of legislation are needed to complete the legal framework together with a comprehensive reform strategy. It highlights attempts by the government to curtail the independence of the judiciary and the lack of efficiency and transparency in court procedures.

"On public administration, the report notes that the legal framework is in place but problems remain with its implementation, specifically the continuation of a regular, politically motivated turn-over of employees. More progress is needed in establishing an independent, merit-based civil service.

"The report notes that corruption continues to be a serious problem for Albania. A more systematic and strategic approach is needed to tackle corruption and the culture of impunity. Further progress is also needed in tackling organised crime, with the high turn-over of previously trained and competent staff in the police noted as a concern. Further progress is also needed in consolidating property rights, which will be vital for boosting foreign direct investment in Albania.


"The report is in line with the Government's assessment of progress in BiH. The Report notes that few of BiH's European Partnership priorities have been achieved in the last twelve months, and that there have been only limited improvements in developing functional state structures. It finds that little progress has been made on the outstanding objectives for OHR closure (apportionment of state and defence property). The report notes that, while there has been some improvement in public administration reform, much remains to be done to establish a professional and efficient civil service without political interference. It finds that some progress has been made on judicial reform, but that fragmentation of the judicial system and challenges to the jurisdiction of State-level judicial agencies in Republika Srpska remain serious causes for concern. The report notes that there has been little progress in the fight against corruption, which remains widespread.

"In terms of the political climate, the report raises concerns about continued nationalist rhetoric and attempts to undermine the State, noting that this acts as a brake on development and hampers functioning of Government and Parliament. It points out that during the reporting period, the High Representative has needed to use executive (Bonn) Powers on a number of occasions to address challenges to the Dayton Agreement. Despite this generally gloomy picture, it is worth highlighting a few areas in which the report judges BiH to have moved forward. It has made 'good progress' in bringing its trade-relevant legislation into line with WTO requirements. Its co-operation with ICTY remains satisfactory. And advances have been made in the area of visa policy, and on the wider visa liberalisation dialogue.

"In recent weeks, the EU and US have jointly launched an initiative aimed at facilitating agreement between Bosnian political leaders on reforms that would complete the five objectives and two conditions for closure of the Office of the High Representative and set BiH on a more credible path towards the EU and NATO. Once implemented, such reforms would go some way towards addressing the concerns raised by the Commission. The Government strongly supports this initiative."


"The report is line with the Government's assessment of progress in Serbia. It records that Serbia continues to make significant improvement on its co-operation with ICTY and that Serbia's decision unilaterally to implement its Interim Agreement with the EU in January 2009 against a worsening economic climate continues to show the Serbian Government's commitment to European integration. The Government welcomes this commitment.

"The report highlights that the stability of the government has increased, and that there is a greater consensus on European integration, with a number of laws being prepared across a range of areas to meet European standards. However, the report notes the need to improve compatibility checks with EU standards before legislation is adopted, and for effective implementation of existing laws and action plans. Concerns also remain over the level of expert capacity of Parliament and its committees, and the knock-on effect this has on the quality of legislation.

"The report welcomes the Serbian government's support for the deployment of EULEX throughout Kosovo, as well as the signing of a protocol on police cooperation between Serbia and EULEX. The report notes several outstanding issues regarding Kosovo that continue to disrupt regional co-operation fora. Regional cooperation continues to be a key European Partnership priority.

"The report notes some progress in tackling organised crime and corruption, but tangible results are still rare. Organised crime remains a serious concern particularly in the region adjacent to the border with Kosovo. The report notes that, in addition to constitutional provisions, new legislation explicitly prohibits discrimination against ethnic minorities.

"The report notes that insufficient attention has been paid to resolving the status of refugees and internally displaced persons, and that the Roma population continues to endure difficult living conditions and discrimination, particularly regarding access to education and public services. Despite the legal framework, incidents involving hate speech, threats and physical attacks against journalists and human rights defenders have not been properly investigated."


"The report is in line with the Government's assessment of progress in Kosovo. The report will provide an important focus in enabling Kosovo to drive through the required reforms. It is important for Kosovo to work closely with the Commission to take forward the recommendations within. The report is clear that the focus on developing standards will benefit the EU and help entrench stability in Kosovo and the wider region. 

"The report notes many areas where Kosovo needs to make significant progress to meet European standards in democracy, rule of law and human rights. The key challenges include the need to improve the function and independence of Kosovo's judiciary, maintaining independence and transparency in other public bodies, tackling corruption and organised crime and consolidating the rule of law. Whilst there has been noted progress in setting up much of the institutional and legal framework, there remains a serious lack of public administration capacity to fully implement required reforms.

"The report does highlight some specific areas where there has been good progress, notably the appointment of an Ombudsman for human rights, progress in local government reform (especially important considering local elections on 15 November), the adoption of a human rights strategy and action plan and progress in the institutional and legal framework around property rights."

2.21 With regard to the Financial Implications of the Communication and Reports, the Minister notes that EU financial assistance for enlargement is delivered via the Instrument for Pre-Accession (IPA), with regard to which €1.5 billion will be committed in 2009.

2.22 Finally, the Minister says that these documents will form the basis of a discussion on enlargement at the December GAERC, and "possibly the December European Council."


2.23 We are grateful to the Minister for having provided such a full analysis.

2.24 A good year for Turkey: still much to do, still hostage to resolution of the Cyprus question, but underlining its strategic significance in regional stability and EU energy security. A good year for Macedonia and Montenegro too. But the historic animosities that so disfigured the Balkans at the turn of the last century continue to bedevil the process of reconciliation, especially in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). Bilateral questions are said to be increasingly affecting the enlargement process, and regional cooperation is seen as a particular challenge for Serbia and Kosovo (which, we note, is to be the subject of a separate, yet-to-be-received Communication and Explanatory Memorandum ).

2.25 Much attention is again given to the "hardy perennials" of judicial reform and independence, proper functioning of state institutions and effective policies on tackling corruption and organised crime. Despite the emphasis on having improved the accession process, the Minister says only that "conditionality is an important part" of it. This is in unhappy contrast with the positions set out by the Foreign Secretary in his evidence to us in July, and subsequent correspondence,[4] and the Minister's own evidence session on 28 October.[5] With regard to the new chapter 23 of the accession process, which covers these "governance" issues, the Foreign Secretary noted that when the moment came for the Council to set closing benchmarks, "we and the EU will certainly want to ensure that they set clear requirements for tackling corruption, including a track record of results". We subsequently asked the Minister for Europe if he agreed that, when it comes to "a track record of results", Croatia should be required to demonstrate before accession what the Commission is still seeking from Bulgaria and Romania, viz:

—  "an autonomously functioning, stable judiciary, which is able to detect and sanction conflicts of interests, corruption and organised crime and preserve the rule of law";

—  "concrete cases of indictments, trials and convictions regarding high-level corruption and organised crime"; and

—  a " legal system … capable of implementing the laws in an independent and efficient way."

His answer then was an unequivocal, "Yes". This would seem to be a long way from the position he adopts here.

2.26 Instead, there remain indications of continuing pressure for the conclusion of negotiations on Croatia's membership application by the end of 2010, despite there clearly being a great deal to be done if conditionality is to be properly adhered to, and to move ahead with Serbia's Stabilisation and Association Agreement, notwithstanding the continuing freedom of the most egregious fugitive from justice, Ratko Mladic.

2.27 2009 also saw applications for membership from two further countries at very different stages of development: Albania (where, despite the Government's support for the Commission being asked to provide a formal Opinion on her application, the further progress needed in the "hardy perennials" is apparently holding up Council agreement) and Iceland.

2.28 Since these documents will form the basis of a discussion on enlargement at the December GAERC, and "possibly the December European Council", we recommend that the Commission Communication: "Enlargement Strategy and Main Challenges 2009-2010" be debated in the European Committee prior to the 7-8 December GAERC.

2.29 We clear documents (b)-(i).

1   Under UNSCR 1244/99. Back

2   Under UNSCR 1244/99. Back

3   Under UNSCR 1244/99. Back

4   See headnote: (30828) (30829): HC 19-xxvi (2008-09), chapter 22 (10 September 2009). Back

5   To be published as HC 1076. Back

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