Thursday

2nd Feb 2023

MEPs ask tough questions on EU mission in Kosovo

  • Brok (l) said 'questions were not answered' by the EU foreign service in Monday's hearing (Photo: euoparl.europa.eu)

Two senior MEPs have, in a letter to the EU foreign service, asked tough questions on corruption allegations against Eulex, the European rule of law mission in Kosovo.

The letter - sent to foreign service chief Federica Mogherini on Wednesday (5 November) - says the European Parliament was “utterly shocked” by the revelations, first published in Kosovo daily Koha Ditore last week.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

“If the case had not appeared in the press when would we have found out?” it says.

“If the allegations were to be confirmed, it would be a disastrous situation” for EU credibility in the Western Balkans, the MEPs - Elmar Brok, the German centre-right chairman of the foreign affairs committee, and Ulrike Lunacek, an Austrian Green deputy - added.

The allegations, citing leaked documents, say senior Eulex officials colluded with criminal suspects, took bribes to shut down cases, and quashed internal EU probes.

They also say Eulex gave classified information to Serbian intelligence services, turned a blind eye to miscarriages of justice in Kosovo courts, and failed to protect informants.

Maria Bamieh - an Eulex prosecutor-turned-whistleblower after Eulex sacked her on suspicion she leaked documents to press - says she has more evidence on “mismanagement of EU funds” in the Kosovo mission.

“The recent downsizing of Eulex [from over 2,000 to some 1,600 staff] cost more money than it saved”, she told EUobserver last week.

She also called for an external enquiry by a credible investigator, such as “a distinguished British QC [a top legal qualification in the UK]”.

The EU’s initial response was to say Eulex was already looking into the problem since 2013.

The EU foreign service’s new chief, Federica Mogherini, then said she will “appoint as a matter of urgency an independent and experienced legal expert” to look into the situation.

Her spokeswoman, Maja Kocijancic, told EUobserver on Thursday that no name and no date for the initiative have yet been set.

Meanwhile, the Brok-Lunacek letter goes on to question the EU claim that Eulex followed due diligence until now.

“For how long did Eulex and the EEAS [EU foreign service] have information about allegations of corruption … when was the internal Eulex investigation started?” their letter asks.

“Bamieh already drew attention to possible problems in 2011/2012, but there was no follow-up, no transparency, and no information given to parliament”.

They note that Bamieh was suspended without proof that she leaked anything, while the suspects in the case have kept their Eulex posts: “What is the policy framework to protect the alleged whistleblower? … This way of proceeding sheds a strange light on Eulex”.

“There are allegations of threats [by Eulex] to the Koha Ditore journalist who published the reports … Have these allegations been investigated?” they add.

The letter came after EU officials stonewalled parliament in a behind-closed-doors hearing on Monday.

But Lunacek told this website on Thursday she is pleased that Mogherini “reacted so quickly” with her pledge to appoint an external sleuth.

For her part, Mogherini spokeswoman Kocijancic noted that since the MEPs’ letter was made public “I imagine the response will be public as well”.

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?

Opinion

Western Balkans: Nationalism is not the answer

After a century of bloodshed and hatred, the independence of Kosovo in 2008 seemed like a sign that peace and stability is possible in the Western Balkans.

Opinion

Europe is giving more aid to Ukraine than you think

'Europeans need to pull their weight in Ukraine. They should pony up more funds.' Such has been the chorus since the start of the war. The problem is the argument isn't borne out by the facts, at least not anymore.

Column

Democracy — is it in crisis or renaissance?

Countries that were once democratising are now moving in the other direction — think of Turkey, Myanmar, Hungary or Tunisia. On the other hand, in autocracies mass mobilisation rarely succeeds in changing political institutions. Think of Belarus, Iran or Algeria.

Latest News

  1. MEPs launch anonymous drop-box for shady lobbying secrets
  2. Hawkish ECB rate-rise 'puts energy transition at risk'
  3. MEPs push for greater powers for workers' councils
  4. How Pavel won big as new Czech president — and why it matters
  5. French official to take on Islamophobia in EU
  6. EU green industry plan could spark 'dangerous subsidy race'
  7. Wolves should be defended, EU ministers urge
  8. EU Commission wants drones for Bulgaria on Turkey border

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Party of the European LeftJOB ALERT - Seeking a Communications Manager (FT) for our Brussels office!
  2. European Parliamentary Forum for Sexual & Reproductive Rights (EPF)Launch of the EPF Contraception Policy Atlas Europe 2023. 8th February. Register now.
  3. Europan Patent OfficeHydrogen patents for a clean energy future: A global trend analysis of innovation along hydrogen value chains
  4. Forum EuropeConnecting the World from the Skies calls for global cooperation in NTN rollout
  5. EFBWWCouncil issues disappointing position ignoring the threats posed by asbestos
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersLarge Nordic youth delegation at COP15 biodiversity summit in Montreal

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP27: Food systems transformation for climate action
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region and the African Union urge the COP27 to talk about gender equality
  3. Friedrich Naumann Foundation European DialogueGender x Geopolitics: Shaping an Inclusive Foreign Security Policy for Europe
  4. Obama FoundationThe Obama Foundation Opens Applications for its Leaders Program in Europe
  5. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBA lot more needs to be done to better protect construction workers from asbestos
  6. European Committee of the RegionsRe-Watch EURegions Week 2022

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us