EU Money Wasted on Kosovo Rule of Law, EU Auditors

EU money spent over a decade in Kosovo has not achieved its intended results in the field of the rule of law, a new report by the European Court of Auditors says.The European Court of Auditors says that EU financial aid to the field of the rule of law in Kosovo has not been that effective, as the judiciary there continues to suffer from political interference.

In a press release on Tuesday, the ECA says that in its audits it found no substantial progress made in the rule of law, and lacked concrete benchmarks to assess progress.

“Although the EU helped to build capacity, notably in the area of customs, assistance to the police and the judiciary has had only modest success,” the report said.

“Levels of organised crime and corruption in Kosovo remain high. The judiciary continues to suffer from political interference, inefficiency and a lack of transparency and enforcement,” the report added.

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia on February 17, 2008. Since then 89 states, including 22 EU member states and the US, have recognized it.

Over the last decade the international community has invested substantially in peace-keeping, reconstruction, institution building, economic development and rule of law.

From 1999 to 2007 Kosovo received a total of 3.5 billion euro in assistance, two thirds of which came from the European Commission and EU member states.

A 2008 Donor Conference pledged an additional 1.2 billion euro for the period 2009-11, including 508 million euro from the Commission. Kosovo is the biggest recipient per capita of EU assistance in the world, the report notes.

“The respective objectives and roles of Commission and EULEX capacity-building activities were not adequately assessed and benchmarked during the planning stage of the EULEX mission,” the report adds.

Set up in 2008, the EU rule of law mission pledged to help stamp out corruption and “catch big fish”, if need be. EU member states finance EULEX to the tune of €165 million a year.

EULEX, which employs around 3,000 staff, has attracted criticism, particularly for failing to strengthen Kosovo’s legal system or tackle high-level organised crime and corruption. The cost of running the organisation has also been attacked.

The European Commission and the European External Action Service have accepted the ECA’s conclusions and recommendations.

In a reply to the ECA, the European Commission says that considering the fragile state of Kosovo’s rule of law institutions at the time when the EU established its presence, these achievements, though difficult to quantify statistically, have provided crucial stability.

“The EU continues to consult closely with Kosovo authorities at the highest level to prioritise their tasks, better focus their EU-related efforts and ensure greater efficiency and effectiveness in the allocation of resources, including financial resources,” the Commission said in its reply to the ECA.

The ECA was established by the Treaty of Brussels of 1975, Its role as an EU Institution is to carry out audits of EU finances. In its own words, “As external auditor, it contributes to improving EU financial management and acts as the independent guardian of the financial interests of the citizens of the European Union.”

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