European Court of Auditors: EU support for rule of law in Western Balkans not impactful

The European Court of Auditors published on 10.01.2022 a Special Report “EU support for the rule of law in the Western Balkans: despite efforts, fundamental problems persist”

In the report they covered the rule of law components of justice and the judiciary, anti-corruption and human rights, namely access to justice and freedom of expression. In particular, they assessed whether support was well designed and achieved the planned results. 

Overall, it was found that, while EU action has contributed to reforms in technical and operational areas, such as improving the efficiency of the judiciary and the development of relevant legislation, it has had little overall impact on fundamental rule of law reforms in the region. A key reason for this is the insufficient domesticpolitical will to drive the necessary reforms.

The Commission’s rule of law priorities are shared by other international organisations, think tanks and civil society organisations. Despite this, the EU’s in-country support for civil society action on the rule of law is insufficient in meeting the needs of the sector and its impact is not thoroughly monitored. A healthy media and civil society environment is necessary to promote democratic principles and promote the need for change along the path to EU membership. Yet freedom of expression is the area that has progressed the least in all six countries. In some, public support for
the reforms necessary for accession is declining.

The European Court of Auditors recommend that the Commission and the
European External Action Service (EEAS) should:

  • strengthen the mechanism for promoting rule of law reforms in the enlargement
  • intensify support for civil society engaged in rule of law reforms and media
  • strengthen project reporting and monitoring.

The full report you can find here:

References from the website of the European Court of Auditors