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The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia – Justice and security

Candidate countries conduct negotiations with the European Union (EU) in order to prepare themselves for accession. The accession negotiations cover the adoption and implementation of European legislation (acquis) and, more specifically, the priorities identified jointly by the Commission and the candidate countries in the analytical assessment (or ‘screening’) of the EU’s political and legislative acquis. Each year, the Commission reviews the progress made by candidates and evaluates the efforts required before their accession. This monitoring is the subject of annual reports presented to the Council and the European Parliament.

ACT

Commission Report [COM(2011) 666 final – SEC(2011) 1203 – Not published in the Official Journal].

SUMMARY

The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia was granted candidate country status for European Union (EU) membership in 2005. The Accession Partnership, adopted by the Council in 2008, supports the country’s preparations in view of its future membership and the alignment of its legislation with the Community acquis. In 2008, the accession negotiations had not yet been opened, as some progress still needed to be made on the objectives and conditions set out in the partnership.

The 2011 Report states limited progress concerning the independence and efficiency of the judicial system, and regarding anti-corruption policy. The freedom of expression of the media remains a concern. However, the Report highlights satisfactory progress made concerning the external borders and Schengen, and on matters of judicial cooperation and customs cooperation.

EUROPEAN UNION ACQUIS (according to the Commission's words)

EU policies in the area of justice and home affairs aim at maintaining and developing the Union as an area of freedom, security and justice. On issues such as border control, visas, migration, asylum, police cooperation, combating organised crime and cooperation with regard to drug trafficking, customs cooperation and judicial cooperation in civil and criminal matters, Member States need to be equipped to ensure that they are able to implement adequate standards and an increasing number of common rules. In order to do this, it is important first and foremost that the bodies responsible for applying the law and other competent bodies have robust and integrated administrative capacities which comply with the set standards. The setting up of a professional, reliable and efficient police force is of paramount importance. The Schengen acquis, which entails the lifting of internal border controls in the EU, is the most detailed element of the EU’s policies on justice, freedom and security. However, substantial parts of the Schengen acquis are implemented by the new Member States, following a separate decision taken by the Council after their accession.

EU policies relating to the judicial system and fundamental rights aim at pursuing and aiding the development of the Union as an area for freedom, security and justice. The establishment of an independent and efficient judicial system is of paramount importance. Impartiality, integrity and a high level of competency regarding the rulings made by courts are essential in maintaining the rule of law. This requires a firm commitment to eliminate all external influences on the judicial system and to dedicate the appropriate financial resources and training facilities to it. It is necessary to offer the necessary legal guarantees to ensure fair judicial procedures. Member States must also tackle corruption effectively insofar as it represents a risk to the stability of democratic institutions and the rule of law. It is necessary to establish a solid judicial framework and reliable institutions to which a coherent policy for preventing and dissuading corruption may be applied. Member States must ensure that the fundamental rights and the rights of EU citizens, as guaranteed by the acquis and the Charter for Fundamental Rights, are respected.

EVALUATION (according to the Commission’s words)

Some limited progress can be reported on independence and efficiency of the judiciary, including the amendment of the Minister of Justice's role on the Judicial Council and the establishment of the High Administrative Court. Further efforts are needed as regards the evaluation and security of tenure of judges.

Some limited progress was made on anticorruption policy. Legislative alignment has continued and systematic verification of assetdeclarations was introduced. A track record in handling high level corruption cases has yet tobe established.

As regards fundamental rights, while the legal and institutional framework is broadly in place, better implementation is needed. A dialogue has been launched to address serious concerns regarding freedom of expression in the media. Some progress was made as regards cultural rights and minorities. The Ohrid Framework Agreement remains an essential element for democracy and rule of law in the country.

In the area of justice, freedom and security, good progress can be reported on external borders and Schengen, judicial cooperation and customs cooperation. The border police still lack adequate technical equipment, budgetary means. Some progress has been achieved on migration, visa policy, police cooperation and the fight against organised crime. The implementation of the police reform has continued, however structural problems, understaffing and lack of budgetary provision still persist. Implementation in the field of asylum remains insufficient, including on the provision of legal aid, interpretation and access to social rights.

RELATED ACTS

Commission Report [COM(2010) 660 final – SEC(2010) 1327 – Not published in the Official Journal].
The 2010 Report presents progress made concerning police cooperation, the management of external borders and the Schengen agreement. In the area of asylum and visa policy, visa liberalisation has been established.

Commission Report [COM(2009) 533 final – SEC(2009) 1334 – Not published in the Official Journal].
The October 2009 report notes that the country has made good progress on the fight against organised crime and drugs. To reform the police, it has improved its administrative capacity; yet, further efforts are still needed to develop human resources management. International police cooperation at regional and EU level is being strengthened. In general, the country’s legislative and administrative capacity is now better aligned with the acquis.

Commission Report [COM(2008) 674 final – SEC(2008) 2699 – Not published in the Official Journal].
The November 2008 report indicated that there had been progress in particular in the fight against organised crime and in the field of police cooperation. In addition, there had been improvements in the operational capacity of the competent authorities. Nevertheless, efforts needed to be made to strengthen the country’s administrative capacity and to further fight organised crime.

Last updated: 21.12.2011

See also

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