Anti-corruption efforts in the Western Balkans

10-04-2017

Widespread corruption is a major shared challenge for Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Kosovo, Montenegro and Serbia. It is a phenomenon that poses a threat to the EU's core values, such as democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights, and undermines good governance and economic development. For these reasons, anti-corruption reform is among the key requirements for EU accession. The prospect of EU integration has proven to be a strong incentive for undertaking reform. The Western Balkan countries have taken a number of anti-corruption steps, such as adapting legislation and establishing dedicated anti-corruption institutions with both preventative and repressive competences. They are also parties to all relevant international conventions. The Commission, as well as various international organisations, has measured annual progress in that respect, and the EU has supported anti-corruption efforts financially and through sharing expertise. Yet, the latest 2016 assessments show that corruption continues to permeate the region. Although the legal and institutional framework is largely in place, and the EU has prioritised good governance reforms in the pre-accession process, the concrete results achieved on the ground are disproportionally low, and political will to improve them is to a great extent insufficient. Addressing corruption requires long-term work at many levels (regional, national and local) and involves multiple stakeholders. A more informed and demanding public, a civil society with a strengthened role in monitoring policies in corruption-prone areas, as well as visible economic progress and improved business environment are other necessary elements for achieving sustainable results.

Widespread corruption is a major shared challenge for Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Kosovo, Montenegro and Serbia. It is a phenomenon that poses a threat to the EU's core values, such as democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights, and undermines good governance and economic development. For these reasons, anti-corruption reform is among the key requirements for EU accession. The prospect of EU integration has proven to be a strong incentive for undertaking reform. The Western Balkan countries have taken a number of anti-corruption steps, such as adapting legislation and establishing dedicated anti-corruption institutions with both preventative and repressive competences. They are also parties to all relevant international conventions. The Commission, as well as various international organisations, has measured annual progress in that respect, and the EU has supported anti-corruption efforts financially and through sharing expertise. Yet, the latest 2016 assessments show that corruption continues to permeate the region. Although the legal and institutional framework is largely in place, and the EU has prioritised good governance reforms in the pre-accession process, the concrete results achieved on the ground are disproportionally low, and political will to improve them is to a great extent insufficient. Addressing corruption requires long-term work at many levels (regional, national and local) and involves multiple stakeholders. A more informed and demanding public, a civil society with a strengthened role in monitoring policies in corruption-prone areas, as well as visible economic progress and improved business environment are other necessary elements for achieving sustainable results.