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Procedure : 2010/2610(RSP)
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Document selected : B7-0409/2010

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Debates :

PV 07/07/2010 - 13
CRE 07/07/2010 - 13

Votes :

PV 08/07/2010 - 6.3
CRE 08/07/2010 - 6.3
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Texts adopted
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Thursday, 8 July 2010 - Strasbourg

European Parliament resolution of 8 July 2010 on the European integration process of Kosovo

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Presidency Conclusions issued following the Thessaloniki European Council of 19 and 20 June 2003, at which a promise was made to all the Western Balkan States that they would join the European Union,

–  having regard to the conclusions of the General Affairs Council meeting of 7 December 2009 stressing that Kosovo, without prejudice to Members States' position on its status, should also benefit from the perspective of eventual visa liberalisation once all conditions are met and inviting the Commission to move forward with a structured approach to bring the people of Kosovo closer to the EU,

–  having regard to Council Joint Action 2008/124/CFSP of 4 February 2008 on the European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo, EULEX KOSOVO, amended by Council Joint Action 2009/445/CFSP of 9 June 2009,

–  having regard to Council Joint Action 2008/123/CFSP of 4 February 2008 appointing a European Union Special Representative in Kosovo and Council Decision 2010/118/CFSP of 25 February 2010 extending the mandate of the European Union Special Representative in Kosovo,

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 14 October 2009 entitled ‘Enlargement Strategy and Main Challenges 2009-2010’ (COM(2009)0533) and the Commission's accompanying 2009 Progress Report on Kosovo and study entitled ‘Kosovo(1)- Fulfilling its European Perspective' (COM(2009)0534),

–  having regard to the recommendations of the 2nd EP-Kosovo Inter-Parliamentary Meeting of 7 April 2009 and of the 3rd EP-Kosovo Inter-Parliamentary Meeting of 23 June 2010,

–  having regard to its resolution of 29 March 2007 on the future of Kosovo and the role of the EU(2) and its resolution of 5 February 2009 on Kosovo and the role of the EU(3),

–  having regard to United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244(1999),

–  having regard to Council Regulation (EC) No 1244/2009 of 30 November 2009 amending Regulation (EC) No 539/2001 listing the third countries whose nationals must be in possession of visas when crossing the external borders and those whose nationals are exempt from that requirement(4) and in particular its Annex I in which a reference to persons residing in Kosovo (UNSCR 1244) was made for reasons of legal clarity and security,

–  having regard to the resolution of the United Nations General Assembly of 8 October 2008 (A/RES/63/3) requesting an advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on the accordance with international law of the unilateral declaration of independence by the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government of Kosovo,

–  having regard to its resolution of 26 November 2009 on the Commission's 2009 enlargement strategy paper concerning the Western Balkan countries, Iceland and Turkey(5),

–  having regard to the UN Special Envoy's final report on Kosovo's future status and the Comprehensive Status Proposal for the Kosovo Status Settlement of 26 March 2007,

–  having regard to Rule 110(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas regional stability in the Western Balkans and the integration of these countries into the EU are priorities for the European Union; whereas these priorities can only be sustained if EU membership is a tangible prospect for all the countries in the region,

B.  whereas the international community has always defended the sustainability of multiethnic and pluri-religious states in the Western Balkans, based on the values of democracy, tolerance and multiculturalism,

C.  whereas the citizens of Serbia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Montenegro have been able to travel to the EU without visas since 19 December 2009 and the same is expected to become possible for citizens of Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina shortly; whereas Kosovo citizens cannot be left behind and isolated from the citizens of other countries in the region and therefore the visa liberalisation process with Kosovo should start without delay, providing that all the necessary criteria are met,

D.  whereas the International Court of Justice has been asked for an advisory opinion on the accordance with international law of the Unilateral Declaration of Independence by the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government of Kosovo and whereas its conclusions are pending,

E.  whereas the decision not to include Kosovo in the visa liberalisation demonstrates a profound contradiction in the EU's Kosovo strategy which lies in the discrepancy between an enormous aid effort in terms of resources and personnel on the one hand and keeping the borders closed to all those whose labour could contribute to development on the other hand,

1.  Notes the declaration of independence of Kosovo of 17 February 2008, which has been recognised by 69 countries; notes that 22 EU Member States have recognised Kosovo as an independent country and five have not; encourages Member States, in order to make EU policies more effective for all the people in Kosovo, to step up their common approach towards Kosovo with the objective of Kosovo's accession to the EU; welcomes the constructive attitude towards Kosovo emphasised by the Spanish Presidency in spite of its non-recognition of the country; would welcome the recognition by all Member States of the independence of Kosovo;

2.  Stresses the utmost importance of the EU integration processes of all countries in the region for regional stabilisation; underlines that the prospect of accession to the EU is a powerful incentive for the necessary reforms in Kosovo and calls for practical steps to make this prospect more tangible both to the government and to citizens; to this end, calls on the Commission to include Kosovo in the screening process starting in early 2011 with a view to preparing the country for the launch of negotiations on the Stabilisation and Association Agreement and to communicate to the Kosovo authorities which steps need to be taken before the Commission prepares the road map for visa liberalisation and to define the road map immediately after these steps are taken;

3.  Notes the recognition of Kosovo's independence by most of its neighbouring countries and good-neighbourly relations with them; notes the fact that Kosovo has been admitted as a member of the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and other international organisations;

4.  Reiterates its view expressed in its resolutions of 29 March 2007 and 5 February 2009 that rejects the possibility of the partitioning of Kosovo;

5.  Is concerned about the state of relations with Serbia and underlines that good-neighbourly relations are an essential criterion for the aspirations of Serbia as well as of Kosovo and all the other countries in the region to join the EU; while understanding the emotional implications of the aftermath of the 1999 war and understanding that the official recognition of Kosovo is not a feasible political option at the moment for the Belgrade leadership, nevertheless calls on Serbia to be pragmatic on the status issue; to this end, welcomes the signing of the police protocol with EULEX and calls for increased cooperation with the mission; moreover, calls on Serbia to refrain from blocking Kosovo's membership of international organisations and in particular its recent application to join the World Health Organisation; underlines that the conflict also affects regional trade and cooperation under the Central European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA), harming the economies of the countries in the region; calls on all sides to show a pragmatic approach to allow Kosovo's regional integration; underlines in this regard that the expected advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on the accordance with international law of the unilateral declaration of independence by the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government of Kosovo should not hinder all parties involved from clearly committing themselves to effective cross-border, regional and local cooperation in the best interests of the whole population in and around Kosovo;

6.  Recalls that any country wishing to join the EU must meet the accession criteria and that in the case of the Western Balkans the stabilisation and association process is the framework for EU negotiations; emphasises that one of the three important aims of the stabilisation and association process is regional cooperation;

7.  Stresses that regional integration and cooperation are crucial for European security and stability as well as for creating a favourable context for the normalisation of relations between Serbia and Kosovo; is of the opinion that a package deal concerning security and cooperation in the Western Balkans would be desirable;

8.  Calls for strengthening of the cross-border cooperation between Serbia and Kosovo, particularly at the local level, on the issues which are important to citizens, such as the environment, infrastructure and trade;

9.  Notes that some Member States apply visa facilitation measures unilaterally while eight Member States continue to charge full visa fees; calls on EU Member States and the Commission to make every effort to adopt quickly uniform provisional facilitated procedures in order to ease travel for Kosovo citizens, especially in the light of the possibilities offered under the new visa code;

10.  Welcomes the local elections conducted on 15 November 2009 as the first elections organised under the political responsibility of the Government of Kosovo; welcomes the fact that in general they passed calmly and in a good atmosphere; underlines however that a series of irregularities were reported; calls on the authorities to swiftly implement the recommendations of the international community, including the necessary changes to electoral law in order to clarify the levels of jurisdiction for dealing with complaints and to clearly divide competencies between the Central Election Commission and the Complaints and Appeals Commission, update the electoral roll and ensure consistent voter education; underlines the utmost importance of the political will to advance these reforms and to hold to account those responsible for electoral fraud with a view to the upcoming general elections;

11.  Regrets that Belgrade is still supporting parallel structures in Serbian enclaves, challenging and weakening the powers of the newly established municipalities; calls on Serbia to adopt a more constructive attitude and to dismantle these structures;

12.  Reiterates the importance of effective implementation of the decentralisation process and warmly welcomes the high participation of Kosovo Serbs south of the Ibar river in the last elections – a step towards building their sustainable future in the country; urges the Government to fully support the newly elected leadership in these municipalities with sufficient financial and political assistance so that they can quickly establish the necessary structures in order to start delivering important services, with the assistance of the Commission; sees efficiently functioning municipal structures as essential for participation by Kosovo Serbs in the political processes and administrative structures of Kosovo; encourages the international community to support development and infrastructure projects coming from the newly established municipalities; in order to avoid a clash with the parallel structures, in particular in the field of education and health, encourages the Government, with the aid of EUSR/ICR, to come up with a strategy on how to deal with such structures;

13.  Welcomes the establishment of the EU House in northern Kosovo but is concerned about the situation in the north of Kosovo, which continues to suffer from severe shortcomings in the rule of law, increasing pressure on and intimidation of civil society by radical groups and organised crime; therefore stresses the need for the Council to make the rule of law mission functional in the entire territory of Kosovo and asks the Commission to raise the profile of its work on behalf of the Serbian community in the north, while underlining to all stakeholders on the ground that local, regional and cross-border cooperation is valuable to the population as a whole; to this end, welcomes the registration of commercial goods at Gates 1 and 31, which has helped to reduce smuggling in the region, and calls for further steps to restore the collection of customs duties; expresses concern about the problems in the current functioning of the judiciary in the Mitrovica region and calls on Serbia and Kosovo to finalise the agreement on staffing the court in Mitrovica North with Kosovo Serbian judges and a prosecutor; supports the plan to reintegrate the north into the political and administrative structures of Kosovo and calls for it to be implemented with due attention to the Serbian minority's sensitivities with a view to improving and increasing government services to the region and improving living conditions for the citizens there in a way which permits wide-ranging self-government; calls on EULEX to make efforts to increase its activities in the north, particularly in order to foster good inter-ethnic relations, while informing the population on the ground about EU action and the ongoing rule of law mission;

14.  Expresses its deep concern at the fatal blast that killed one person and injured ten others that took place in Mitrovica North on 2 July 2010 during the demonstrations against the opening of the civil services centre and at the attack of 5 July 2010 on an ethnic Serb member of the Kosovo Assembly; strongly condemns all acts of violence and calls on the parties to act responsibly; urges EULEX to make every effort to defuse tension and prevent further violence and calls on the Kosovo Police, with the assistance of EULEX, to start, immediately, thorough and impartial investigations into the events in order to bring the perpetrators to justice;

15.  Underlines the importance of the success of the EU rule of law mission EULEX, both for sustainable development, the consolidation of the institutions and the stability of Kosovo, and for the EU's ambitions as a global player in peace-building; stresses EULEX's responsibility regarding its executive powers as well as its mandate to monitor, mentor and advise; in this regard, encourages EULEX to take concrete actions to make progress with high-level corruption cases; acknowledges the good progress made in some fields such as police and customs but stresses that the work should be accelerated so that the mission finally starts delivering tangible results in other fields, particularly high-level corruption cases, organised crime and war crimes; therefore welcomes the latest approach of EULEX to address possible cases of corruption also on the highest government and administration level and stresses the need to continue on this path in order to ensure credibility for and visibility of EULEX actions; stresses that in this regard a particular focus on the area of public procurement is of high importance and that in the area of organised crime EULEX must continue to achieve concrete results on the ground; in this regard, is concerned about the large backlog of cases caused by the unexpectedly high number of cases transferred to EULEX by the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo; stresses that an insufficient number of judges and prosecutors have been made available to EULEX and calls on Member States to second the required number of experts or to make provision for contracting them; underlines the importance of streamlining the bureaucracy within EULEX; in this regard stresses the necessity for competent internal management, coordination and cooperation to make the mission work efficiently; stresses the need for transparency and accountability in the work of EULEX as well as to display sensitivity to the political context of its activities in order to increase its legitimacy in the eyes of citizens; moreover, underlines the importance of maintaining close communication with the Government, citizens and media of Kosovo; encourages EULEX to communicate the accomplishments of the mission to Kosovo's citizens and, in addition, work to increase trust in the mission and be alert to the expectations of citizens; welcomes the recent setting-up of the Human Rights Review Panel that will be in charge of reviewing complaints from persons claiming to be victims of human rights violations by EULEX in the conduct of its executive mandate;

16.  Calls on its competent bodies, particularly the Subcommittee on Security and Defence, to step up scrutiny and oversight of EULEX, possibly in cooperation with Kosovo civil society; to this end, calls upon the Council to forward all regular and exceptional evaluations and review reports on EULEX to Parliament;

17.  Notes the efforts of both Serbia and Kosovo to locate persons missing since the 1998-1999 conflict through the ‘Working Group on Persons Who Are Unaccounted For In Connection With Events In Kosovo’; underlines the significance of the resolution of this issue in moving forward from the 1998-1999 conflict; further notes the approximately 1 862 cases of persons still missing and calls on both Kosovo and Serbia to extend all possible cooperation to each other, the ICRC, EULEX and other entities in searching for these persons;

18.  Stresses that 2010 is a crucial year for both the Kosovo Government and all levels of the administration in order to make progress on key reforms such as the fight against corruption and organised crime, decentralisation and public administration reform; underlines that the reform process, in order to be successful, must be based on a thorough debate on draft legislation in consultation with all stakeholders, including all parts of civil society; moreover, reminds the Government that particular attention should be paid to the swift and efficient implementation of laws, without which the adoption of legislation will not have any real impact on the situation in Kosovo;

19.  Is extremely concerned about the widespread corruption which remains one of the biggest problems in Kosovo, another being organised crime, and calls for urgent action to combat it by improving the legal framework for tackling corruption, adopting an anti-corruption strategy and action plan and stepping up cooperation with the police and judicial authorities of all the countries of the region; is deeply concerned at the recent bloodshed caused by a violent incident near the borders of Kosovo and calls for immediate measures to be taken to prevent such incidents in future and to put an end to the arms trafficking which contributes to the destabilisation of the Western Balkan region; welcomes the establishment of a special anti-corruption department within the Special Prosecution Office of Kosovo but underlines that the commitment of all the line ministries is necessary in order for the department to be effective and that staffing in all cases must be with people who are irreproachable; calls for swift adoption of a law regulating the financing of political parties, which would effectively and transparently regulate party finances, ensuring full disclosure of their financial reports;

20.  Stresses the utmost importance of the reform of the judiciary and prosecution service, which is still at an early stage, in order to ensure the independence and professionalism of judges and prosecutors and to allow citizens to regain trust in the rule of law; to this end, welcomes the appointment of the Ombudsman, the judges of the Supreme Court, the prosecutors of the State Prosecutor's Office and the prosecutors of the Kosovo Special Prosecution Office; is concerned that shortcomings in witness protection continue to impede justice for the most serious crimes; calls for the adoption and rapid implementation of the Law on Courts and for the establishment of an effective protection system for witnesses and judges; in that sense urges the EULEX representatives to continue to report publicly on the remaining challenges with regard to the rule of law in Kosovo;

21.  Calls for more efforts to speed up the public administration reform in order to create a professional and independent civil service respecting gender balance and fully reflecting the diverse ethnic composition of the Kosovo population; underlines the need for the legislative framework to be adopted and implemented to this end and for appropriate attention to be paid to, and finance provided for, the building of human resources; is concerned about political interference in appointments to key civil service positions and calls for this practice, which seriously undermines the functioning of the administration, to be halted;

22.  Urges the Government to ensure media pluralism and financial and editorial independence of the media, without political pressures, and transparency of ownership and funding; calls for working rights for journalists as well as efficient procedures for protecting investigative journalists from threats; underlines the importance of the public broadcaster for providing high-quality independent information to the entire population and is concerned about the lack of a sustainable financing system to ensure it; welcomes the investments made by the Government in providing internet access; urges the Government to make internet access even more widely available to its citizens; stresses the important role of uncensored access to the internet for business and politics, especially in order to increase youth participation at the time of elections;

23.  Calls for support to strengthen the Assembly of Kosovo so that it can effectively fulfil its legislative functions and carry out democratic oversight of the Government's political and budgetary activities; calls, in this regard, for the setting-up of an ad hoc twinning programme in order to provide the administrative staff of the Kosovo Assembly with the opportunity of internships in the European Parliament and calls on Member States' parliaments to set up twinning programmes in order to provide MPs and administrative staff of the Kosovo Assembly with the opportunity for exchanges and capacity-building in relation to parliamentary legislative and control procedures, especially for parliamentary minority and opposition groups;

24.  Commends the Government for its progress in the adoption of the legislation protecting human rights, and encourages it to swiftly adopt the remaining laws; notes, however, that the implementation of the legislative framework remains unsatisfactory and overall progress slow; calls for more active policies to fight discrimination on all grounds (ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, disability and others) and to ensure gender balance as well as active participation by minorities in political life and administrative structures, both at national and local level; stresses the importance of education in this process; calls on the Government to provide schooling for minorities in their own languages, including the curricula and textbooks, enabling them to preserve their culture and identity, as well as to assist them with building human resources;

25.  Is concerned about high levels of domestic violence, discrimination against women and the phenomenon of trafficking in persons, particularly girls and women for sexual exploitation; calls for active steps to ensure gender equality and to effectively protect women's and children's rights;

26.  Underlines the very difficult legacy of the armed conflict, which has eroded public trust in the possibility of a peaceful resolution of conflicts, both among social groups and in private life;

27.  Underlines that the fragile political situation, the occurrence of inter-ethnic incidents in some areas and poor economic conditions have hampered the sustainable return of refugees, and calls for more efforts to be made to improve their situation;

28.  Underlines the difficult situation and the discrimination faced by minorities and in particular Roma in access to education, housing, social services and employment; welcomes the Commission's initiative to close the lead-contaminated camps in the north of Mitrovica and to resettle the families living in them and calls for its swift implementation; shares the concern expressed by the Council of Europe's Commissioner for Human Rights that Kosovo is not yet in a position to provide proper conditions to reintegrate forcefully repatriated Roma and urges the Member States to stop carrying out this practice; takes note, in this regard, of the agreement reached between German and Kosovo authorities to repatriate gradually 14 000 refugees to Kosovo, of whom about 10 000 are Roma, and urges the Commission to step up ad hoc assistance programmes; calls on the countries participating in the Roma Decade to facilitate Kosovo's involvement in the programmes;

29.  Stresses the crucial importance of education, both in providing young people with the necessary skills in the labour market and in contributing to reconciliation between ethnic groups; to this end, encourages the gradual introduction of common classes, teaching of minority languages, particularly Serbian, to pupils of Albanian ethnicity, and of the Albanian language to all the minorities; welcomes the recent establishment of the International Business College in Mitrovica, which, while representing a significant international investment in the local economy, attracts students from all communities, aims to create prospects for young people by promoting entrepreneurship, and introduces them to European professional standards in business, environmental and public management;

30.  Emphasises that respect for cultural diversity is always at the heart of the European project and that the religious and cultural heritage is a necessary condition for peace and security in the region; stresses that adequate cultural heritage protection is of importance to all communities in Kosovo; calls on the Government to proceed with the planned institutional reform of the cultural heritage sector; emphasises that the adoption of the List of Cultural Heritage Sites is an important precondition for implementation of the cultural heritage legislation; welcomes the activities of the Facilitator for the Protection of the Religious and Cultural Heritage or the Serbian Orthodox Church and encourages all stakeholders to actively cooperate with him;

31.  Emphasises that academic exchanges must be supported and promoted through programmes such as Erasmus Mundus in order to allow Kosovo citizens to obtain qualifications and experience within the EU and to reinforce their interaction with the citizens of the EU;

32.  Calls on the authorities to actively support civil society and its involvement in the formulation of social and economic policies in full support of freedom of expression and association, underlines the important role that civil society and international NGOs play in reconciliation between ethnic groups and calls on the Commission to step up its financial assistance to their work; emphasises in this respect the need for an effective framing of these issues in the Annual Programmes for Kosovo under the Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance; notes that good interpersonal and especially business cooperation exists between individuals from different ethnic communities and that more efforts should be undertaken by the Kosovo authorities, civil society and the international community to support local projects which enhance this kind of cooperation;

33.  Is seriously concerned about the fact that Kosovo continues to be one of the poorest countries in Europe, with unemployment exceeding 40%; stresses that this situation is unsustainable and that difficult living conditions have resulted in growing discontent in society; calls for urgent action to improve the efficiency of social systems to provide a safety net for the vulnerable parts of society and to pursue active labour policies to decrease unemployment; calls, in this regard, on the Commission to make full use of the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance to foster Kosovo's socioeconomic development, in particular for young people; appeals to the EU and Member States to accept as many Kosovo citizens as possible as seasonal workers and in sectors with labour shortages;

34.  Considers economic development to be the key to solving important problems of the country, which includes its vital contribution to improving the situation of women and minorities and facilitating inter-ethnic relations; underlines the importance of the agricultural sector to this end; welcomes a number of laws in preparation in this field and calls for their swift adoption; underlines however that the efficient implementation of the legal framework already adopted is a precondition for conditions on the ground to improve;

35.  Stresses that Kosovo should choose the appropriate economic policies that will ensure sustainable economic growth, environmental protection, job creation and diminishing social exclusion; calls on the Kosovo authorities to improve the economic climate for foreign investment and transparency in trade relationships;

36.  Calls for active steps to be taken in the field of energy in order to ensure the energy security necessary for the development of Kosovo; underlines that huge infrastructure needs in this field constitute an opportunity to diversify the energy supply to include more ecological sources, to modernise and step up the energy efficiency of the electricity grid and to implement the best available technologies, including in the planned coal-fired plants; calls for the closure of Kosovo A power plant without delay and Kosovo B as soon as possible without compromising the energy needs of the country;

37.  Calls on the Kosovo authorities to continue investing in renewable energy and seeking regional cooperation in that field;

38.  Points out that the transport policy of Kosovo has been focused so far on road-building; regrets the poor condition of public transport with regard, in particular, to railways; calls on the Kosovo Government to make full use of the IPA funds in order to develop, upgrade and modernise the railway network and improve interconnections with neighbouring countries for both people and freight with a view to making mobility sustainable;

39.  Expresses its concern at the widespread environmental problems affecting land, air and water and calls on the Government to amend and implement the legislative framework in order to bring it into line with EU standards and to make environmental education a key element of education;

40.  Underlines the need to streamline the EU presence in Kosovo in line with the development of the European External Action Service and the creation of EU Delegations in the world and to change the Commission Liaison Office into an EU Delegation so as to improve the effectiveness and coordination of EU action in Kosovo; takes note of the opening of the new EU Office in Belgrade in the framework of the EU SR Kosovo mandate, operating separately from the existing EU Delegation to Serbia;

41.  Deplores the lack of transparency with regard to the latest extension of the mandate for the EU SR to Kosovo, including a substantial increase in appropriations; recalls that the adoption of the new interinstitutional agreement on budgetary matters will have to address properly the EP's information requirements by taking into account the Lisbon Treaty;

42.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the Commission, to the Council and Commission, to the EU Special Representative/International Civilian Representative for Kosovo, to the Government and Assembly of Kosovo, to the Government of Serbia, to the members of the International Steering Group for Kosovo and to the United Nations Security Council.

(1) Under UNSCR 1244/1999.
(2) OJ C 27 E, 31.01.2008, p. 207.
(3) OJ C 67 E, 18.03.2010, p. 126.
(4) OJ L 336, 18.12.2009, p. 1.
(5) Texts Adopted, P7_TA(2009)0097.

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