Report acknowledges problems with situation on the ground but calls on EU to better co-ordinate assistance.
The European Union's largest-ever crisis management mission,
in Kosovo, has been ineffective and plagued by delays, according to a report by
the European Court of Auditors published today (30 October).
The report found that progress in strengthening the rule of
law in Kosovo has been slow, attributing this primarily to conditions in the
country, notably the continued control of north Kosovo by ethnic Serbs financed
by Serbia. But the report also says that there are “significant areas where
better management by the European External Action Service and Commission could
have made EU assistance more effective”.
In the period 2007-11 covered by the audit, the EU provided
some €680 million to support the rule of law in Kosovo, and Kosovo is the
biggest per-capita recipient of EU aid in the world.
The report found that objectives had not been clearly
defined and that there were “major co-ordination challenges” between the EU's
judicial and police mission (Eulex) and Commission projects. Eulex, with its
2,500 staff, suffered from delays in reaching full staff numbers. Last year,
when the audit was carried out, Eulex was at 75% of its authorised staff
levels, according to the report. The auditors said that one-year secondments
were too short, especially for organised-crime investigators and senior
magistrates. Eleven member states provided unqualified candidates for open
The report concludes that Kosovo's authorities “have given a
low priority to anti-corruption activities” and notes that the relevant parts
of the European Partnership Action Plan for this year foresees funding from
Kosovo's government of just €17,000 for five anti-corruption actions, while
eco-driving receives €25,000 from the state budget.
The Court of Auditors recommends calls on the EU to ensure
that objectives for assistance have benchmarks to allow progress to be
measured. The EEAS and the Commission should improve their co-ordination and
prepare the Commission for taking over Eulex's capacity-building functions once
it phases out. The member states should ensure that qualified candidates are
available for the authorised staff level to be reached, and staff should be
allocated to reflect the importance of the rule of law.
In a joint reply to the auditors, the EEAS and the European
Commission wrote that they “concur with the assessment and find it positive
that the Court's findings confirm progress in some areas”. They agreed with the
recommendations and said that some – for example the development of benchmarks
to measure progress against objectives – had already been implemented.
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