In the report adopted on Tuesday (23 February), Foreign Affairs Committee MEPs call on Priština to tackle ongoing internal problems in its approach to the dialogue with Belgrade.
MEPs welcomed Kosovo’s continued and strong commitment to advancing on its European path as well as the strong support for European integration among Kosovo’s population, in the report adopted by the Committee on Foreign Affairs on Tuesday.
MEPs also regret that Kosovo continues to struggle with political instability and call on all political forces in the country to reform the political system in order to improve legal certainty and the process of forming a new government.
Shortcomings in accountability, transparency issues, and political interference
In the committee’s report on the 2019-2020 Commission reports on Kosovo, MEPs welcome the progress made in adapting the legal framework on the rule of law, but regret “the weak level of implementation”, calling on the Kosovo authorities to step up their efforts to enforce these laws to the benefit of their citizens. The fight against corruption must intensify at all levels, they stress, and are concerned that despite an adequate normative framework, Kosovo’s justice system continues to be undermined by shortcomings in accountability, transparency issues, and political interference. Publicly-owned enterprises must be more accountable and there must be better financial oversight of them, MEPs note, repeating their call for progress and clear political commitment to reforming the public administration.
With regard to media, MEPs reiterate the need to guarantee full transparency including that of media ownership, as well as independence of media, free from any political influence. However, they recognise that despite certain challenges, there is a pluralistic and lively media environment in Kosovo.
Relations between Serbia and Kosovo as a priority
MEPs stress that normalising relations between Serbia and Kosovo is a priority and a precondition for both countries’ EU accession. They urge the Serbian and Kosovo Governments to refrain from any action that could undermine trust between the parties and put the constructive continuation of the dialogue at risk, calling on Kosovo to tackle ongoing internal problems in its approach to the dialogue.
The rapporteur Viola von Cramon-Taubadel (Greens/EFA) said: “This result shows that the majority of the European Parliament does support Kosovo in its European path. We clearly see the potential of this country also for the European Union. But there is still a lot of work ahead in Kosovo. First of all, we need political stability to implement all the necessary reforms. However, we are aware that we all have to do our homework: Therefore, the majority of the Committee called the Council to finally adopt the visa-free regime for the citizens of Kosovo”.
MEPs note that five EU member states have not yet recognised Kosovo, and reiterate their call for them to do so. They stress that the independence of Kosovo is irreversible and that recognition from all EU member states would be beneficial to the normalisation of relations between Kosovo and Serbia.
The report was adopted by 50 votes for, 10 against and nine abstentions. The vote took place on Tuesday, with results announced today (24 February).