Thursday

30th Mar 2017

Ombudsman to investigate EU mission in Kosovo

  • Mogherini: under growing pressure to find out what happened in the EEAS' biggest foreign mission (Photo: eeas.europa.eu)

Europe’s Ombudsman has opened a fresh enquiry into the EU's handling of corruption allegations at Eulex, its rule of law mission in Kosovo.

Emily O’Reilly, who heads the watchdog, notified Patrick Child, the top official in the European External Action Service (EEAS), which runs Eulex, about her “own-initiative” probe in a letter last Friday (14 November).

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Citing press articles on the furore, she said “there are doubts” as to whether “EEAS/Eulex Kosovo has properly investigated/is properly investigating the allegations of serious irregularities reported by the … Eulex prosecutor”.

The prosecutor - a seconded British official, Maria Bamieh - complained to her superiors that her colleagues took bribes to shut down criminal cases and stymied an internal affairs probe.

She was later fired on suspicion that she leaked documents to a Kosovo daily, Koha Ditore. But both she and the paper deny she leaked the files.

O’Reilly’s letter notes that EEAS/Eulex “have stated that a joint investigation was launched in 2013”.

It also notes the EEAS recently appointed a French academic, Jean Paul Jacque, to “assess the matter”.

The EU last week asked the UN to partly lift the immunity of one of the Eulex suspects, Italian judge Francesco Florit.

But with Bamieh claiming the 2013 internal investigation is “a lie … a complete joke”, O’Reilly complained that: “EEAS/Eulex Kosovo appear to have repeatedly declined to provide any information on what exactly the scope of this investigation was or what stage it has reached”.

O’Reilly added that Jacque’s mandate - to “check whether Eulex has adequate procedures to prevent corruption and whether it followed due process” - is so limited that she wants to make her own assessment “notwithstanding” his efforts.

She underlined that she will not look into Bamieh’s allegations as such, but will “verify whether EEAS/Eulex have taken all the necessary steps to examine” them.

She also asked Child to forward her “all the documents” related to the affair, promising to protect files which he “identifies as confidential” from “third parties”.

The EU Ombudsman, a Strasbourg and Brussels-based body, has around 90 staff and oversees “maladministration” in EU institutions.

Its reports are non-binding, but EU bodies have a track record of following up on its recommendations.

O’Reilly herself is an award-winning Irish journalist, who was also Ireland’s Ombudsman from 2003 to 2013.

Olaf involved

The Kosovo daily, Koha Ditore, reports that Bamieh, in her efforts to ring alarm bells inside the EU prior to her suspension, sent O’Reilly 40 pages of information in September.

It also reports that Bamieh sent the same dossier to the EU’s anti-fraud office, Olaf.

The Olaf press office told EUobserver it “does not usually confirm having received specific information regarding certain matters”.

Its protocol says Olaf specialists first evaluate “information of potential investigative interest” before deciding whether or not to open a case.

For their part, MEPs on the European Parliament’s foreign affairs committee have also voiced concern on Eulex in two behind-closed-doors meetings with top EEAS officials, including its new chief Federica Mogherini.

Meanwhile, Pieter Feith - the former head of the International Civilian Office in Pristina, which supervised Kosovo until 2012 - told this website that Mogherini should launch another, much wider investigation.

“It should look at the overall efficiency and impact of the rule of law mission” he said, noting that Eulex failed to convict a single high-level suspect in five years of work.

The more scrutiny the better

Commenting on the multiplication of probes, Richard Howitt, a British centre-left MEP, told EUobserver on Wednesday: “The seriousness of the allegations and what is, to me, the clear inadequacy of the investigations so far, justify as much external scrutiny as possible”.

“I therefore welcome the Ombudswoman’s efforts and I believe the parliament has a continuing role to play in addressing these issues”.

Eulex was in 2008 tasked with helping to create law and order in Kosovo.

It is the EU’s largest foreign mission, with more than 1,600 staff and a budget of €111 million a year.

Investigation

EU and Kosovo corruption: Scratching the surface?

The EU has asked an ageing academic to look into Eulex corruption allegations. But former officials want to know why it failed to convict a single "big fish" in the past five years?

MEPs call for reset in relations with Belarus

A group of 72 euro-deputies have written to EU leaders, asking them to stop funding Europe's last dictatorship and increase their support for democracy activists instead.

Interview

Let's not lecture Trump, says top German MP

Europeans need to propose "projects of common interest" to the US president to preserve "Western unity" on Russia, Norbert Roettgen, the chair of Bundestag's foreign affairs committee said.

News in Brief

  1. UK publishes 'Great Repeal Bill' plan to replace EU laws
  2. Scots share May's vision for Brexit deal, survey says
  3. Coalition talks leader expects Dutch government by summer
  4. EU commission allows ex-member Hill to join law firm
  5. Reuters: Greece and lenders move closer to deal
  6. Italy: Le Pen win would mean 'permanent political risk'
  7. Danish parliament misinformed on Nord Stream 1
  8. UK delivered its Article 50 letter to the EU

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Malta EU 2017Green Light Given for New EU Regulation to Bolster External Border Checks
  2. The Idealist QuarterlyCan Progressive Stories Survive Our Post-Truth Era? After-Work Discussion on 6 April
  3. ACCAG20 Citizens Want 'Big Picture' Tax Policymaking, According to Global Survey
  4. Belgrade Security ForumCall for Papers: European Union as a Global Crisis Manager - Deadline 30 April
  5. European Gaming & Betting Association60 Years Rome Treaty – 60 Years Building an Internal Market
  6. Malta EU 2017New EU Rules to Prevent Terrorism and Give More Rights to Victims Approved
  7. European Jewish Congress"Extremists Still Have Ability and Motivation to Murder in Europe" Says EJC President
  8. European Gaming & Betting AssociationAudiovisual Media Services Directive to Exclude Minors from Gambling Ads
  9. ILGA-EuropeTime for a Reality Check on International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
  10. UNICEFHuman Cost to Refugee and Migrant Children Mounts Up One Year After EU-Turkey Deal
  11. Malta EU 2017Council Adopts New Rules to Improve Safety of Medical Devices
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Energy Research: How to Reach 100 Percent Renewable Energy

Latest News

  1. Hungary attempts to stifle Soros-founded university in Budapest
  2. European right shows divisions on EU values after Brexit
  3. Transparency is key EU tactic in Brexit talks
  4. Russia building 'arc of iron' around Europe
  5. Französische und deutsche Wahlen 'entscheidend' für Putin
  6. EU trying to salvage US deal on data privacy
  7. MEPs draw 'red lines' on Brexit deal
  8. MEPs call for reset in relations with Belarus

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Party of European SocialistsWe Must Renew Europe for All Europeans
  2. MEP Tomáš ZdechovskýThe European Commission Has Failed in Its Fight Against Food Waste
  3. ILGA-EuropeEP Recognises Discrimination Faced by Trans & Intersex People
  4. Nordic Council of Ministers25 Nordic Bioeconomy Cases for Sustainable Change
  5. European Free AllianceSupporting Artur Mas: Democracy and Freedom Cannot Be Convicted
  6. UNICEFSyria Conflict 6 Years On: Children's Suffering at Its Worst
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsDomestic Violence in Tajikistan: Time to Right the Wrongs
  8. European Trust SummitCorporate Strategy and Public Affairs in a Low-Trust World - Conference 31 May
  9. Malta EU 2017Agreement Reached to Involve Consumers in Financial Services Policymaking
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Cities Gather Against Violent Extremism & Introduce Nordic Safe Cities
  11. World VisionFears and Dreams of Syria's Children and Their Peers Around the World
  12. Mission of China to the EUEU Window Chinese Government Academic Scholarship 2017/18 - Apply Now