Bosnia and Herzegovina remained the only country in the Western Balkans to make very “limited progress” in fulfilling political and economic criteria of the European Union (EU), said European Commission 2013 Progress Report.
The Progress Report presented on Wednesday in Brussels, recommended granting EU candidate status to Albania, and opening of accession negotiation with Macedonia “for the fifth time in row”.
“All the countries in the Western Balkans and Turkey need to undertake further reforms to ensure that the principles of freedom of expression and the rights of persons belonging to minorities, including Roma are respected in practice. More robust measures are needed to protect other vulnerable groups from discrimination, in particular on grounds of sexual orientation,” said Stefan Fule, Enlargement Commissioner during the presentation of the report.
With regard to Bosnia and Herzegovina, the report said it made very limited progress on the political criteria.
“A shared vision by the political representatives on the overall direction and future of the country, or on how it should function, remains absent,” said the report.
According to the report, the most striking issue for Bosnia is the implementation of the European Human Rights Court ruling issued in 2009 that would guarantee equal right to all citizens.
“This judgement needs to be implemented as a matter of urgency in order to have the amendments of the constitution and election law in place by April 2014 at the latest, in time for the next general elections,” the report said.
The second issue highlighted by the report is the establishment of “an effective coordination mechanism on EU-related matters between various levels of government. Such a coordination mechanism is essential to enable the representatives of Bosnia and Herzegovina to speak on behalf of their country and to commit when interacting with the EU.”
Furthermore Bosnian politicians failed to achieve progress in adopting necessary legislation that will help the country to come closer to EU, said the report, adding that the "good progress”achieved on the processing of the war crimes remained very limited when it came to processing corruption and organised crime.
“Corruption remains widespread, with an insufficient track record of investigation and prosecution in high-profile cases, which has a negative impact on society and the economy.”
The report also touched upon press freefom and said, “Political and financial pressure on the media has increased."
According to the report, economic situation in Bosnia was slightly improving compared to 2012, while unemployment remained high.
“The complex political and administrative structure of the country is unlikely to be fiscally sustainable. The legal system is equally complex, with implementation of laws hampered by a weak enforcement capacity, which, together with an inefficient judicial system, is a clear deterrent for investment and a source of corruption,” the report concluded.
The report said Montenegro has made progress in establishing a functioning market economy since it started accession negotiations with the EU in June 2012.
However, further improvements are necessary for fighting high level corruption and organised crime, added the report.
The report also marked that Montenegro came out of the recession in 2013, it still needed to strengthen competitiveness by improving productivity and attracting foreign direct investments into other sectors in addition to tourism and real estate.
With regard to Kosovo, the report said the country's European perspective gained considerable momentum,” while the government had to remain dedicated to the dialogue with Serbia to normalize the relations.
“The EU appreciated these efforts by agreeing to start negotiations on a Stabilisation and Association Agreement with Kosovo.”
In addition the report recommended Kosovo to focus on securing the rule of law.
According to the report, Macedonia, the first country of the region to sign a Stabilisation and Association Agreement with the EU that obtained candidate status in 2005, continued with make progress over the last year.
Yet it was emphasized that a constructive approach to relations with neighbouring EU states remained important.
The report also urged the country to find a solution to the raw over its official name with Greece.
In the case of Serbia, the report found the year 2013 as "historic” for relations with the EU as accession negotiations started on 28 June.
“The Commission concluded that Serbia sufficiently fulfils the political criteria. Continued visible and sustainable progress in the normalisation of relations with Kosovo, including the implementation of agreements reached so far, will remain essential," said the report.
It also said that Serbia would also have to sustain over time the reform momentum in the key areas of the rule of law, particularly judicial reform and anti-corruption policy, independence of key institutions, media freedom, anti-discrimination policy, protection of minorities and business environment.
AALast Mod: 17 Ekim 2013, 13:21