Documents considered by the Committee on 18 March 2015 - European Scrutiny Contents

30 EU Special Representative for Kosovo

Committee's assessment Politically important
Committee's decisionCleared from scrutiny
Document detailsCouncil Decision extending the mandate of the EU Special Representative in Kosovo
Legal baseArticles 31(2) and 33 TEU; QMV

Document number

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

(36626), —

Summary and Committee's conclusions

30.1 This Council Decision seeks to renew the mandate and budget of Samuel Žbogar as EU Special Representative (EUSR) in Kosovo. He would also continue his role as acting as head of the EU Office in Pristina.

30.2 At the time of the last mandate renewal in June 2014, the Minister for Europe (Mr David Lidington), illustrated various ways in which Mr Žbogar (a former Slovene Foreign Minister) had continued to make a positive contribution in an extremely challenging situation, particularly with regard to the EU's largest and most longstanding rule-of-law mission, EULEX Kosovo;[81] this was especially important at this juncture because EULEX Kosovo faced a very difficult transition, in which Mr Žbogar would no doubt continue to play a leading role.

30.3 The proposals for EULEX over the next two years outlined in that Report emanated from a European Court of Auditors report and an EEAS Strategic Review: an unwieldy EULEX would be down-sized, specialising in the areas which would make the most impact in the next two years; its Executive division — covering policing and sensitive criminal cases — would remain in both the north and south of Kosovo, but in a smaller way, while most of EULEX's current capacity-building activities would be taken on by Commission-funded project work (reflecting a key recommendation of the European Court of Auditors' earlier report). EULEX would focus on implementation of agreements reached in the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue in the north; start to phase out its executive functions in the justice sector as part of a phased handover of responsibility to Kosovo; and complete its work on ongoing serious cases: Kosovo had agreed, in principle, to create a special court to hear any trials arising from EULEX's Special Investigative Taskforce, which has been investigating the allegations against senior Kosovo political figures in the 2010 Marty Report;[82] and EULEX would have an important role in assisting Kosovo with the operation of this court.[83]

30.4 In his Explanatory Memorandum of 29 January 2015, the Minister said that the new High Representative, Federica Mogherini, had now proposed to extend the mandate; that he expected its length to be eight months, until 31 October 2015; and that he would update the Committee when this was confirmed.

Our assessment

30.5 The Minister also illustrated the continuing importance of the EUSR role and how well Mr Žbogar had continued to fulfil his brief — which we considered all to the good, given not only the inherent challenges (which, if mishandled were always capable of undercutting the welcome progress being made) but also those posed not only by the down-sizing and re-focussing of EULEX Kosovo, but also the corruption allegations that had arisen since the EUSR's mandate was renewed (and about which we expected shortly to hear from the Minister).[84]

30.6 The EUSR's budget had also yet to be fully finalised. The Committee therefore continued to retain it under scrutiny, pending confirmation of the length of Mr Žbogar's mandate and receipt of information about the budget.[85]

30.7 The Minister now says that the proposed budget for the next eight months is €1,520,000, which represents an increase of 4.6% (€70,000) in gross terms on last year's budget of €1,450,000 for the eight-month mandate.

30.8 Though the Minister does not say so directly, we infer from the length of the budget that (as with various other EUSR mandates that we have considered in recent weeks) the HR has now also confirmed that Mr Žbogar's mandate will run until 31 October 2015.

30.9 On that basis, we now clear the draft Council Decision.

Full details of the document: Council Decision extending the mandate of the European Union Special Representative in Kosovo: (36626), —.


30.10 The EU has had a central role in post-conflict Kosovo: firstly, as part of the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo, or UNMIK; and latterly, through the EU Special Representative/Head of the EU Delegation and the EU's largest and most longstanding civilian ESDP mission, EULEX Kosovo.

30.11 The EUSR's mandate stems from the 14 December 2007 European Council underlining the EU's readiness to play a leading role in strengthening stability in the Western Balkans, including by contributing to a European Security and Defence Policy mission and to an International Civilian Office as part of the international presence in Kosovo. Joint Action 2008/123/CFSP adopted on 4 February 2008 established an EU Special Representative for Kosovo. Kosovo declared independence on 17 February 2008.

30.12 As our earlier Reports detail, until May 2011 the EUSR mandate was combined with that of the International Civilian Representative (ICR; appointed by an International Steering Group, of which the UK is a member, and the ultimate supervisory authority over the implementation of the UN Special Envoy's Comprehensive Settlement Proposal: Kosovo committed itself to that proposal as part of its declaration of independence). The ICR had no direct role in the day to day administration of Kosovo, but retained strong executive and corrective powers to ensure the successful overall implementation of the Settlement. The ICR's mandate was to continue until the ISG determined that Kosovo had implemented the terms of the Settlement.

30.13 Previous Council Decisions cleared by the Committee:

—  ended that arrangement, leaving the incumbent as the ICR;

—  set out a new mandate that combined the EUSR role with that of heading a new Liaison Office in Belgrade, which had been set up as part of the EU-sponsored (and UN-endorsed) Dialogue between Pristina and Belgrade;

—  appointed Fernando Gentilini as EUSR (an Italian diplomat, now a member of the EEAS and closely involved with the Pristina/Belgrade Dialogue since its inception) until he became the EEAS Director for the Western Balkans; and

—  as of 1 February 2012, appointed Samuel Žbogar for the position (and thus also as Head of the EU Office in Pristina).

The draft Council Decision

30.14 The Minister noted that:

—  the policy objectives in the proposed mandate include:

"playing a leading role in promoting a stable, viable, peaceful, democratic and multi-ethnic Kosovo; strengthening stability in the region and contributing to regional cooperation and good neighbourly relations in the Western Balkans; promoting a Kosovo that is committed to the rule of law and to the protection of minorities and of cultural and religious heritage; supporting Kosovo's progress towards the EU in accordance with the European perspective of the region and in line with the relevant Council Conclusions"; and

—  that this mandate calls for Mr Žbogar to continue to:

·  offer the EU's advice and support the political process;

·  promote overall EU political coordination in Kosovo;

·  strengthen the presence of the EU in Kosovo and ensure its coherence and effectiveness;

·  provide local political guidance to the Head of EULEX, including on the political aspects of issues relating to executive responsibilities;

·  ensure consistency and coherence of EU action in Kosovo within the EU office/EUSR's office, and guiding locally the EULEX transition;

·  support Kosovo's progress towards the EU, in accordance with the European perspective of the region, through targeted public communication and Union outreach activities designed to ensure a broader understanding and support from the Kosovo public on issues related to the EU, including the work of EULEX;

·  monitor, assist and facilitate progress on political, economic and European priorities, in line with respective institutional competencies and responsibilities;

·  contribute to the development and consolidation of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in Kosovo, including with regard to women and children and protection of minorities, in accordance with the EU's human rights policy and EU Guidelines on Human Rights; and

·  assist in the implementation of the Serbia-Kosovo Dialogue facilitated by the EU, working closely with local actors, and colleagues in Belgrade and Brussels to improve coordination and delivery.

30.15 With regard to the Financial Implications, the Minister says:

—  he had yet to receive the draft budget [funded from Heading 4 of the EU budget, which covers the EU's external spend], but will examine it in detail on receipt and forward it to the Committee; and

—  in the meantime, with a scrutiny reserve in place, his officials had stressed the need for a budget to be circulated as soon as possible, given that the EUSR's mandate expires on 28 February.

The Minister's letter of 13 March 2015

30.16 The Minister says:

"The proposed budget for the next eight months is €1,520,000, which represents an increase of 4.6% (€70,000) in gross terms on last year's budget of €1,450,000 for the eight month mandate. This increase is due to the progressive transfer, which began three and a half months into the last eight month mandate, of nine legislative experts from EULEX to the EUSR. These experts are embedded in the Ministry of Justice and Internal affairs and deal with legal cooperation and mutual legal assistance. These are critical aspects of the EUSR's mandate.

"This year the staff will need to be budgeted for the full eight month mandate (to end on 31 October 2015) as opposed to only four and half months, hence the increase.

"We believe this continues to represent value for money, and despite this small increase in the budget of the EUSR there is a significant net reduction in the joint cost to the UK of the EUSR and EULEX of over £20m."

Previous Committee Reports

Thirty-second Report HC 219-xxxi (2014-15), chapter 7 (4 February 2015); also see (36034), —: Third Report HC 219-iii (2014-15), chapter 11 (18 June 2014) and (36259), —: Twenty-fifth Report HC 219-xxiv (2014-15), chapter 14 (10 December 2014); also see (33609), —: Fifty-second Report HC 428-xlvii (2010-12), chapter 24 (18 January 2012); (33170), —: Forty-second Report HC 428-xxxvii (2010-12), chapter 22 (12 October 2011); (33066), —: Fortieth Report HC 428-xxxv (2010-12), chapter 13 (7 September 2011); (32738), — and (32590), —: Twentieth-eighth Report HC 428-xxvi (2010-12), chapter 10 (11 May 2011) and (32590), — (32601), — (32602), — and (32603), —: Twenty-third Report HC 428-xxi (2010-11), chapter 4 (23 March 2011); also see (32505), —: Nineteenth Report HC 428-xvii (2010-11), chapter 12 (16 February 2011).

81   EULEX Kosovo is focused on local ownership and capacity building, through mentoring, monitoring and advice; aimed at advancing the goal of a stable, viable, peaceful, democratic, multi-ethnic Kosovo, contributing to regional cooperation and stability, and committed to the rule of law and to the protection of minorities. Back

82   Produced for the Council of Europe by Senator Dick Marty, it alleged that after the end of hostilities with Serbia in 1999, high-ranking members of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) had been involved in the murder of mostly Serbian prisoners, whose organs were then trafficked. Back

83   See (36034), -: Third Report HC 219-iii (2014-15), chapter 11 (18 June 2014), (36259) -: Ninth Report HC 219-ix (2014-15), chapter 43 (3 September 2014), and Thirty-second Report HC 219-xxxi (2014-15), chapter 7 (4 February 2015) for full background. Back

84   See (36259), -: Twenty-fifth Report HC 219-xxiv (2014-15), chapter 14 (10 December 2014) for full background. In essence, on 6 November 2104, the Minister wrote concerning recent allegations of corruption within EULEX's ranks made by a UK national seconded to EULEX as a prosecutor, and "secondary allegations" relating to "EULEX's handling of this issue and of the UK staff member concerned". He noted that the UK, along with other Member States, had quickly made it clear to EEAS that a thorough response was needed, which not only investigated the allegations but also ensured that public confidence was maintained in EULEX's handling of such cases. EU High Representative/Vice-President Mogherini then announced on 10 November that an external investigation would take place led by Mr. Jean Paul Jacqué, a distinguished law professor and former Director of the Council Secretariat legal services, who had been asked to provide a report and recommendations within four months.

On 10 December 2014, we asked the Minister to write in two months' time on:

· both the Jacqué investigation and the others that he anticipated, updating us on how matters stand and whether they have fulfilled his criteria, viz., a "thorough response" in terms of independence, timeliness, transparency and "much-needed external scrutiny";

· the matters affecting UK secondees, including the UK national seconded to EULEX as a prosecutor who made the original allegations; and

· the establishment of the special "out of country" court, which is central to the effective execution of the remainder of the EULEX mandate and indicative of the commitment of the Kosovar political establishment to its work.

We report further on this at chapter 28 of this Report. Back

85   See Thirty-second Report HC 219-xxxi (2014-15), chapter 7 (4 February 2015) for detail. Back

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Prepared 27 March 2015