Sunday

1st May 2016

Crime levels bode ill for Kosovo's EU visa-free bid

  • The EU police mission in Kosovo, Eulex, is the Union's biggest operation of its kind (Photo: eeas.europa.eu)

Kosovo is lagging behind in crime fighting reforms, limiting its prospects of obtaining EU visa-free travel.

The European Commission in a report released on Tuesday (12 February) described Kosovo’s capacity to fight organised crime and corruption as limited, “with a potentially severe impact on the EU’s internal security.”

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.

Senior commission officials delivered the message to Kosovo’s minister for European Integration Vlora Citaku on Tuesday.

Despite the bad news, Citaku told reporters in Pristina that progress has been achieved in all the blocks defined by the EU's so-called roadmap for visa liberalization.

But she did note that “there is still much to do and that our institutions will continue their maximum commitment in the implementation of all requirements and recommendations of the European commission report."

Hard drugs like heroine and trafficked people are among a long list of problems where the commission wants to see improvements.

The wealth it generates provides “considerable incentives for bribery, money laundering and the abuse of public procurement procedures,” the commission report said.

The breakaway nation launched its visa liberalization dialogue with the EU in January 2012 and started EU-mandated reforms last summer.

Neighbouring western Balkan countries including Serbia already have a visa-free regime, entitling their citizens to travel throughout the EU for up to three months with no permit.

The commission report pointed to areas where Kosovo needs to make further progress.

For one, it said Kosovo should make marked improvements in putting an end to human trafficking. While the legal and institutional framework against trafficking is being put together, the commission says Kosovo remains a place of origin and transit point for trafficked women and children.

Women are shipped against their will for sexual exploitation throughout the EU while children are forced to beg on its streets, the commission noted.

Other Kosovar women and children are coerced into prostitution, marriage or forced labour. Most young women trafficked into Kosovo come from Albania, Moldova, Poland and Serbia.

Authorities have cracked down on some of the networks. In 2011, they netted 88 suspected trafficking offenders but the judiciary is backlogged with massive case loads.

Europol, the EU police agency in the Hague, bagged over 100 suspects in a human smuggling end of January in a network of countries that included Kosovo.

The report also cites endemic corruption.

Despite a raft of new laws and a new anti-corruption agency, results have been limited. The commission says agency is ill-equipped.

Abuse of public procurement remains prevalent and a law on political party financing still does not prohibit donations from people or organisations that are in a position of a conflict of interest.

News in Brief

  1. Netherlands funds €1.3mn Russian media project
  2. Fake euros network dismantled in Bulgaria
  3. Inflation negative in eurozone in April
  4. EU economy registers 0.5% growth in first quarter
  5. Eurovision says No to Kosovo, Palestine, IS flags
  6. EU to decide on future of tobacco agreement 'soon'
  7. Russia blames Sweden for frosty relations
  8. UN chief warns of 'growing xenophobia' in Europe

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Roundtable of IndustrialistsDigitising European Industry
  2. Counter BalanceParliament Gets Tough on Control EU Bank's Funds
  3. ICRCSyria: Aleppo on the Brink of Humanitarian Disaster
  4. CESIWorld Day For Health and Safety at Work: Public Sector Workers in The Focus
  5. EFABasque Peace Process-Arnaldo Otegi Visits the European Parliament
  6. EscardioChina Pays Price of Western Lifestyle With Soaring Childhood Obesity
  7. Centre Maurits CoppetiersThe Existence of a State is a Question of Fact, Not a Question of Law
  8. Martens CentreJoin Us at The Event: Prospects For EU Enlargement After 2019
  9. ICRCSyria: Aid for Over 120,000 People Arrives in Besieged Town Near Homs
  10. Counter BalanceHighway to Hell: European Money Fuelling Controversial Infrastructure Projects
  11. EPSUResponds To Reported €300 Million McDonald’s Tax Bill in France
  12. Access NowAcademics and Privacy Groups Ask Obama to Reject Anti-encryption Law

Latest News

  1. EU roaming charge cut enters UK referendum campaign
  2. EU fiscal rules, migrants and Belgium's trick
  3. EU should call out Bangladesh on workers' rights
  4. Kosovo: Living in a ghetto on the EU fringe
  5. War crimes law poisons Serbia accession talks
  6. Italy and Austria try to calm tensions on Alpine pass
  7. French MPs call to lift Russia sanctions
  8. EU sides with embattled Greek PM in bailout talks