European Union 2018 Enlargement Country Reports

Traditionally, the European Commission adopted its annual assessment of the implementation of reforms in the Western Balkan partners and Turkey, together with recommendations on the next steps for those countries, and published its annual country reports.

Accession negotiations have been opened with candidate countries Montenegro (2012), Serbia (2014), and Turkey (2005). North Macedonia is a candidate country since 2005 and Albania since 2014. Bosnia and Herzegovina (application to join the EU submitted in February 2016) and Kosovo* (Stabilisation and Association Agreement entered into force in April 2016) are potential candidates.

The Commission’s Western Balkans Strategy of February 2018 generated a renewed engagement by the EU and its Member States and created new momentum across the region. One year on, the partner countries have made concrete progress and demonstrated commitment to the European perspective, even if the overall uptake of reforms varies.

The Commission estimated that Albania and North Macedonia have embraced the opportunity and delivered on reforms, in particular in the areas identified as crucial by the Council in June 2018. Even though, same like last year, the Commission recommended that the Council opens accession negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia, the Council still haven’t made such move.

The Commission also issued today its Opinion on Bosnia and Herzegovina’s application for membership of the European Union, together with an analytical report that reviews, for the first time, the situation in the country against all standards applicable to EU Member States. The Commission considers that negotiations for accession should be opened once Bosnia and Herzegovina has achieved the necessary degree of compliance with the membership criteria and in particular the political criteria requiring stability of institutions, guaranteeing notably democracy and rule of law.

DPNSEE extracted segments related to drugs from each of the country reports and packed them in one document. Same like in 2018, it is a pity to see that, almost exclusively, except some references to drug abuse prevention and harm reduction in Chapter 28: Consumer and health protection, the reports deal only with law enforcement related to drugs.

The document we prepared is downloadable following this link>>>

Full versions of the Commission’s documents are available following this link>>>

Recent developments can hardly be assessed as positive

Coalition prEUgovor published a new edition of their Alarm Report on Progress of Serbia in Chapters 23 and 24. This report contains the prEUgovor coalition’s assessment of the political criteria for the EU accession process and the fulfilment of criteria for selected policy areas from Chapters 23 and 24 for the period October 2018 – March 2019. The presentation was held on 16 April at the Media Centre in Belgrade.

The report states that the government continued the practice of abuse of public resources during the election periods, while the executive and the ruling majority continuously deprived the Parliament of its legitimate functions. Another worrying fact is the increasing number of laws that are being passed by urgent procedure and in most cases without any public debate. These practices have led to an alarming consequence – namely, the opposition has left the Parliament.

Besides the above, the authorities keep undermining the work of independent control institutions by systematically ignoring their recommendations. Once again, we have an atmosphere in which non-governmental organisations are declared enemies and traitors; they are left out of all the dialogues and are not welcome in the solving of social problems. At the same time, the government is creating its own NGOs (GONGOs).

The fight against corruption is at a very low level, threatening to become a mere simulation that is activated only periodically so that the authorities can easily score some cheap political points. Furthermore, there is a real danger that the very same mechanism (Law on Investigation of Property Origin) could be used against the opposition. Also, there are enormous problems with the potential consequences of the proposed constitutional amendments related to the judiciary, as well as a series of laws that are about to enter parliamentary procedure.

Generally speaking, the commitments made in the existing Action Plans for Chapters 23 and 24 are fulfilled inconsistently, while the deadlines are postponed on a regular basis. Well-known problems with the non-implementation of the existing acts and laws are still present. Having in mind the fact that two crucial EU issues to be addressed are the Rule of Law and the fight against corruption, lack of concrete results in these two areas is still a major alarming obstacle in Serbia’s process of integration.

The majority of the key findings expressed in this report coincide with the lowered ratings that were given to Serbia by various international actors (Freedom House, for instance), thus confirming the alarming developments in the areas covered by Chapters 23 and 24.

To download full report follow this link>>>

Coalition prEUgovor is a network of civil society organisations formed in order to monitor the implementation of policies relating to the accession negotiations between Serbia and the EU, with an emphasis on Chapters 23 and 24 of the Acquis. In doing so, the coalition aims to use the EU integration process to help accomplish substantial progress in the further democratisation of the Serbian society.

Members of the prEUgovor are: ASTRA – Anti Trafficking Action, Autonomous Women’s Center (AWC), Belgrade Centre for Security Policy (BCSP), Center for Investigative Journalism of Serbia (CINS), Center for Applied European Studies (CPES), Group 484 and Transparency Serbia (TS).

Serbian Justice Ministry releases draft Action plan for Chapter 23

The Serbian Justice Ministry has published a draft of its revised Action plan for Chapter 23 – Judiciary and Fundamental Rights – in the country’s pre-accession negotiations with the European Union. The draft was published on the ministry’s web site along with an invitation for comments. The deadline for comments is 8 February.

EU Justice - Support for Chapter 23".The first draft of the revised Action Plan for Chapter 23 was presented at the round table held on 6 February 2019 in Belgrade. Representatives of judicial institutions, civil society organizations and international institutions attended.

The round table was organized with the support of the European Union, which financed the project “EU Justice – Support for Chapter 23”.

The DPNSEE Executive Director participated in the round table. It was an opportunity to meet and exchange with colleagues, especially with those from the Office for Gender equality and Association of Judges and Prosecutors of Serbia.

 

The situation that calls for – an alarm

A coalition of seven NGOs entitled prEUgovor, which monitors Serbia’s EU accession process, presented a new report that contains the coalition’s assessment of the political criteria for the EU accession process, as well as the fulfilment of criteria for chapters 23 and 24 which include the judiciary, fundamental rights, justice, freedom and security for the period April – September 2018.

The central finding of the report is that key reforms stagnate or even marks a downturn and that much of stagnation happens under the justification of accession process. During that period, the Serbian authorities adopted a series of laws “that are worse than the current ones”, said the NGO coalition made of ASTRA – Anti-Trafficking Action, the Autonomous Women’s Centre, the Belgrade Centre for Security Policy, the Centre for Applied European Studies, the Centre for Investigative Journalism, Group 484 and Transparency Serbia. The report said that the democratic civil control over defence and security institutions is weak in practice.

Commenting at the presentation, DPNSEE Executive Director remarked that the report has no reference to the segment on drugs which is integral part of the Chapter 24 and presented some warning facts about the issue. DPNSEE and the coalition have working relations which both sides hope to be improved in the future.

The report is available following this link>>>>

(photo: prEUgovor)

EU 2018 Enlargement Strategy Paper and Country Reports

The European Commission adopted and published its annual Enlargement Package for the West Balkans and Turkey, including seven country reports , assessing the implementation of the European Union’s enlargement policy.

The Commission also published the Strategy Paper, which indicates that addressing reforms in the area of the rule of law, fundamental rights and good governance remains the most pressing issue for the enlargement countries and includes conclusions and recommendations for each of the country.

The Commission recommended that the negotiations be opened with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Albania, in light of the progress achieved, maintaining and deepening the current reform momentum. These are great news for the two SEE countries and their people.

The current enlargement agenda covers the partners of the Western Balkans and Turkey. Accession negotiations have been opened with candidate countries Montenegro (2012), Serbia (2014), Turkey (2005). Bosnia and Herzegovina (application to join the EU submitted in February 2016) and Kosovo* (Stabilisation and Association Agreement entered into force in April 2016) are potential candidates.

We have extracted segments related to drugs from each of the country reports and packed them in one document. It is a pity to see that almost exclusively, except some references to drug abuse prevention and harm reduction in Chapter 28: Consumer and health protection, the reports deal only with law enforcement related to drugs.

The document we prepared is downloadable following this link>>>

Full versions of the Commission’s documents are available following this link>>>