EULEX faces staff cut
By Lénaïc Vaudin d’Imécourt | Friday 25 May 2012
EULEX – the EU’s rule of law mission in Kosovo – will be downsized during the summer after the region’s authorities have made considerable progress, mostly in the area of customs, the European External Action Service’s Civilian Operations Commander, Hansjörg Haber, announced, on 25 May. Haber told media representatives in Brussels that the mission was set to reduce its staff by one fourth due to “EULEX’s needs to adapt [to the situation] and prepare its own disengagement from Kosovo”. He admitted that the EU was “looking for the best value for [its] money”.
While the mission’s current mandate is set to expire on 14 June, it is undergoing a review process within EU structures to enable the member states to decide on a likely extension until the Kosovo authorities have gained “enough experience to guarantee that all members of society benefit from the rule of law,” a press release states. According to an EU source, while there is no specific time frame for ending the mission in Kosovo, it is unlikely to happen before 2014. “There is no deadline, but it will be as soon as possible and as long as necessary,” the source added.
However, while Kosovo’s customs standards have “dramatically improved” and bilateral relations with the EU have evolved to a new level, “the North remains a problem, but the mandate encompasses the whole of Kosovo,” Haber warned. Authorities will also have to “take on more work” if they want to balance EULEX’s staff cuts, Haber noted. In addition, as the mission prepares for a future transfer of authority, it will increase its focus on the justice sector, he added.