Policymaking in the Western Balkans: Creating Demand for Evidence Beyond EU Conditionality

EU aspirants from the Western Balkans find themselves in a lengthy and demanding process of improving their policymaking systems. Sustainable results require not only robust tools and procedures, but also the involvement of all interested parties – civil society, media, interest groups and associations – into policymaking. However, policymaking as a topic is under-researched and its relevance somewhat underestimated both by the state and the civil society actors in the region. This Position Paper presents arguments to highlight the necessity for more streamlined engagement of the civil society to act as effective scrutinisers of policymaking reforms as well as to take a more constructive role in policymaking processes, consequently rendering it more transparent and evidence-based.

The Position Paper is made under the Centre of Excellence on Policymaking Systems in the Western Balkans (CEPS WeB) project, whose aim was to create a Centre for Excellence within the institutional framework provided by the Think for Europe Network (TEN). The project is financed under the framework of the Regional Research Promotion Programme (RRPP).

To access the paper, please click here.

Rule of Law Conditionality in the Stabilisation and Association Agreement between Kosovo and the EU

This Policy Report attempts to offer a thorough analysis of the rule of law requirements in the Kosovo Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) and their implications. First, we begin by offering an account of stabilisation and association agreements in general, including their role in the EU enlargement agenda and afterwards refer to the previous SAAs concluded with the other enlargement countries. Third, we proceed to outlining the main provisions in the agreement signed between the EU and Kosovo which concern the rule of law sector; they will be analysed in the context of the equivalent provisions in previous SAAs, the recommendations contained in other EU documents and instruments (such as the Visa Liberalisation Roadmap, the EC Annual Country Reports and, there applicable, the SAP Dialogue), as well as by reference to the situation in other enlargement countries. Fourth, the Report attempts to anticipate the main issues which may constitute obstacles for Kosovo in applying these provisions and the instruments made available by the EU to facilitate the implementation process. The Report then refers to the mechanisms that will ensure the monitoring of the SAA before proceedings with a set of recommendations for the government of Kosovo. To access the report, please click here.

Promising Early Years: The Transformative Role of the Constitutional Court of Kosovo

In this Working Paper we analyse whether and, if yes, how, the Constitutional Court of Kosovo has influenced and guarded the essentials of the nascent democracy. While we strive to assess the Constitutional Court’s role in the democratic transition of Kosovo, various external factors, such as political influence and the legitimacy of the Court, will necessarily be part of the equation. The first section of this paper briefly reviews the role of constitutional courts in transitional democracies, and identifies the common denominators which explain their endeavors to influence democratic developments. The second section focuses on the jurisdiction, functioning and organisation of the Court, and its relationship with public opinion. The third section analyses internationalized constitutionalism and its impact on the legitimacy and integrity of the Court in Kosovo. The fourth and fifth sections assess specific indicators, including the perceived level of confidence in the Court by political actors and the public at large, the role of international actors, and the perceived outside pressure on judges, doing so through analyses of the most notable cases and their impact upon societal and political life in the country. The final section provides a brief conclusion. To access the report, please click here.

This Working Paper is delivered with the support of the Regional Research Promotion Programme in the Western Balkans (RRPP).The RRPP is coordinated and operated by the Interfaculty Institute for Central and Eastern Europe (IICEE) at the University of Fribourg (Switzerland). The programme is fully funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), Federal Department of Foreign Affairs.

Mapping Confiscation of Criminalized Wealth: A statistical case scenario

Corruption being a major problem in Kosovo, the fight against it has been lifted to a priority by all rule-of-law institutions. Due to an ineffective fight against corruption, Kosovo has been criticized by several international and national reports, including the annual European Commission Country Report. Therefore, Kosovo vulnerability to high levels of corruption and a culture of impunity is undermining democratic institutions, government stability, and seems to hinder economic development.  For these reasons, developing a comprehensive institutional and legislative response to such policy loophole is both challenging and requires an intensive cooperation between all government stakeholders. Therefore, this policy note maps and analyzes the data on criminalized wealth and reflects upon the success/failure of this policy in the fight against corruption and organized crime. The first section assesses the data provided by the Agency for Management of Sequestrated or Confiscated Assets, and evaluates the trends and peaks evidenced as successes and/or failures. The last section provides a set of recommendations for relevant stakeholders aimed at increasing the effectiveness of the fight against corruption and organized crime through confiscation of illicit wealth. To access the Policy Note, please click here.

Kosovar Citizens’ Satisfaction with the Rule of Law – An Empirical Study

The aim of this Policy Report is to analyze Kosovar citizens’ perception and satisfaction with the Rule of Law institutions, more precisely, the Police, Courts, Prosecution, EULEX, and the Government of the Republic of Kosovo. The survey results can provide necessary and meaningful insights into the attitudes of Kosovar citizens towards the functionality as well as the lacks of those institutions. It therefore measures the respondents’ satisfaction, the perceived effectiveness, the accountability of these institutions and their ability to guarantee for equality. While the next section presents the data collection process and methodology of the study, the fourth section discusses the findings of the survey and the fifth section concludes the most important findings and results. The second part of this study finally tries to find factors that contribute to citizens’ satisfaction with the Rule of Law institutions and asks if there are differences among specific socio-economic groups when assessing the functionality of the respective institutions. To access the Report, please click here.

Assessing the EU Special Representative: Samuel Žbogar’s performance through Two Mandates

Group for Legal and Political Studies (GLPS) has published a Policy Report which thoroughly assesses the performance of Samuel Zbogar, the EU Special Representative in Kosovo throughout his first two mandates. He is the highest-ranking European Union official on the ground in Kosovo. He manages the distribution of tens of millions of Euros for Kosovo’s progress towards the EU. He heads an office that advises on every piece of Kosovo legislation to ensure that it is in line with European standards. He handles the day-to-day implementation of the fragile dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia on the Kosovo side. He mediates between Kosovo Albanians and Kosovo Serbs, between disparate EU member states and between the EU and third parties. As the EU Special Representative to Kosovo, Samuel Žbogar is the most important international official in Kosovo. This report looks at the background of his position, the Special Representative, and where it fits in the Kosovo context. It also considers how he came to be the Special Representative in Kosovo and examines his mandate in depth. The report also discusses the two aspects of his mandate: coordinating the EU presence in Kosovo and ensuring Kosovo’s European path, before concluding and giving recommendations for the Special Representative and the EU. Overall, the report gives a positive evaluation of the Special Representative, as his outreach to minorities, his advocacy on Kosovo’s behalf in the EU and aid to Kosovo’s legislative process, among other actions, far outweigh the problems present in a sometimes timid approach to local politics and sporadic communication breakdowns with the member states. To access the report, please click here.