Juncker is dangerously active over the Western Balkans

6 May 2018

Juncker is dangerously active over the Western Balkans

It is characteristic of Juncker’s Commission that not only do the European Commissioners clearly want to grab more and more powers from the member states, but that they want to acquire in addition ever more such member states. This week the Council of Europe (an entirely separate, non-EU body comprising 47 countries) published the annual report from its anti-corruption network GRECO. This presents a very different picture from that to be found in the Commission’s mid-April progress reports on individual applicant states. Countries such as Albania and FYROM(Macedonia) have, according to GRECO, made little progress in fighting corruption, despite the European Commission claiming that in that respect things are going well. The strategic interest of the Western Balkans evidently counts for more with Juncker than does telling the truth about the situations in these countries.

Prominent in the news was the announcement that some parts of the Western Balkans could become EU members in 2025. This went first of all for Serbia and Montenegro, but should they show sufficient progress, others such as Albania and Macedonia might also accede in the same year. I’ve been through the progress reports on Albania and note that according to the European Commission, Albania has continued the positive trend in the fight against corruption. On the other hand, the Council of Europe’s GRECO report states that the country only one in ten recommendations on corruption has been implemented in full. These recommendations concern the integrity of parliamentarians, judges and officers of justice, the pillars upon which a well-functioning constitutional state is built.

Admittedly, GRECO works differently from the Commission and this can lead to different results. But while GRECO is absolutely transparent about its research methodology, the Commission simply presents the results of its own enquiry. You are simply expected to assume that the Commission works in an honest fashion. So it’s important that the two institutions cooperate. The Commission hides behind legal objections to complete participation in GRECO, despite the European Parliament’s repeated requests for it to do so. I will shortly be meeting with the GRECO Secretariat in Strasbourg. They have come up with practical solutions to the alleged obstacles, and time is pressing. Corruption is spreading like a disease across the entire European Union, while countries are to be admitted where it is already running riot. And when such a perspective on accession is admitted, political pressure to turn a blind eye to certain imperfections will grow ever greater. Fortunately the standpoint of the SP is clear: we don’t take any risks. For us the priority is for the EU first of all to put its own house in order. The insatiable greed for power of the Juncker Commission must for once be toned down.

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