A Decade after Eulex: A new Approach to Improve the Rule of Law in Kosovo

Published at: 24 Nov 2019

The new Balkans Group report scrutinises the legacy of EULEX, the largest civilian mission ever launched under the European Security and Defence Policy. Additionally it explores the current state of play of the Rule of Law in Kosovo.

With the EU preparing another flagship initiative, serious lessons must be learned from the eleven-year mission that did little to evolve societal transformation in the areas of the rule of law.

The pervasive argument of the report is that EULEX must pack up and leave Kosovo before any major new Rule of Law initiative or EU mission may launch in Kosovo. A continuation of EULEX, with its poor track record and dubious image will not win the support of the institutions nor the public.

A review of both international and national competencies is necessary to properly inform the new EU initiative and the recommendations serve as a precaution to not repeat the same mistakes.

To ensure success before launching new EU initiatives and agendas to support Rule of Law in Kosovo, the following principles shall be taken into account:

  • Consultations with local institutions must take place.
  • A full and comprehensive review of the rule of law should be conducted before deployment.
  • EU support shall be primarily funnelled through the Ministry of Justice which should play a more prominent role on the reform agendas and programmatic planning.
  • The mandate, obligations and aims for any new mission in support of rule of law should be well-defined and widely publicised.
  • Institutions and local civil society organisations should be invited to participate in donor coordination processes.
  • New initiatives shall be integrated into the Existing rule of law programmes and reforms agendas should be streamlined.
  • Realistic benchmarks for the EU and local institutions need to be set and stuck to.

 The EU has a real opportunity to work with the domestic actors and institutions and should not impose an ill-thought out mission that looks and talks like EULEX. On the other hand Kosovo institutions have to seat themselves firmly in the driver seat and take the lead – they cannot continue to blame international missions for the lack of improvement in their country.