2 Enlargement Strategy and Main Challenges
|(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
||14 October 2009
|Deposited in Parliament
||22 October 2009
|Department||Foreign 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)
||(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
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. In
addition, in an accompanying document, the Commission sets out
"a path for Kosovo,
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.
ENLARGEMENT STRATEGY AND MAIN CHALLENGES 2009-2010
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
"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
"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
BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA
"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:
CROATIA PROGRESS REPORT
"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
TURKEY PROGRESS REPORT
"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."
MACEDONIA PROGRESS REPORT
"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."
MONTENEGRO PROGRESS REPORT
"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
ALBANIA PROGRESS REPORT
"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
"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
"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.
BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA (BIH) PROGRESS REPORT
"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."
SERBIA PROGRESS REPORT
"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
KOSOVO PROGRESS REPORT
"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
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,
and the Minister's own evidence session on 28 October.
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
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
a " legal system
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
Under UNSCR 1244/99. Back
Under UNSCR 1244/99. Back
See headnote: (30828) (30829): HC 19-xxvi (2008-09), chapter 22
(10 September 2009). Back
To be published as HC 1076. Back