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EULEX KOSOVO: The largest EU mission with little success


The European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX) is so far the biggest, in terms of the number of dispatched personnel, civilian mission initiated under the Common Security and Defense Policy (CSDP) of the EU. EULEX aims to help with and promote the rule of law principle with a special focus on judiciary. The EU promotes peace and stability in the Western Balkan region and EULEX is a part of this campaign.

Introduction of the Mission

The mission was launched in February 2008 and reached its complete operational capability in April 2009. The current mandate will end in June 2014. The mission will be terminated after it is made sure that Kosovo authorities ensure the application of the rule of law principle in the entire society.

The headquarters of the mission is based in Pristina and the current Head of Mission is Bernd Borchardt. The total number of personnel is 2065, out of that 1118 international and 947 local staff. The budget of the mission amounts to 114 mil. EUR/year.

Why is the Mission Important for the EU?

The European Security Agenda of 2003 identified top 5 security threats to the EU including “…terrorism, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, regional conflict, state failure, and organized crime”. These also led to the inclusion of the fight against organized crime as one of the EULEX main aims, especially because it can trigger other threats such as regional conflict and state failure. The mission is in accordance with the United Nations Charter supporting international peace and stability. Other not so obvious reason might be the immigration to the EU. By securing the rule of law in Kosovo and by providing peaceful and stable environment for the Kosovars, fewer immigrants would come to the EU from Kosovo.

Mission Characteristics

Legal Basis

EULEX is carried out under the provisions of the United Nations (UN) Security Council Resolution 1244. The Security Council authorized the“…Member States and relevant international organizations to establish the international security presence in Kosovo…”. It also decided on the responsibilities of the international security presence in Kosovo, such as demilitarization of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), ensuring public safety and order, and deterring renewed hostilities. Article 10 of the resolution authorizes the establishment of international civil presence in Kosovo in order to grant transitional administration and establish democratic self-governing institutions in Kosovo which would secure peace in the society. The UN Security Council also set out responsibilities of the international civil presence, including the establishment of an autonomous and self-governing Kosovo, maintenance of civil law and order, protection and promotion of human rights and “… (f) In a final stage, overseeing the transfer of authority from Kosovo’s provisional institutions to institutions established under a political settlement”.

The mission was launched as a joint action by the Council of the EU (Council Joint Action 2008/124/CFSP). It has an integrated chain of command to the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and to the EU Member States in the Political and Security Committee. The Common Foreign and Defence Policy allows the Union to develop civilian and military capabilities to enhance crisis management and conflict prevention at the international level under the provisions of the United Nations Charter.

Main goals

The main aim of the EULEX mission is set out in the Article 2 of the Council Joint Action 2008/124/CFSP. EULEX should support the Kosovo authorities (institutions, judicial authorities and law enforcement agencies) in establishing a sustainable, accountable and independent multi-ethnic system of justice as well as police and customs service. These should comply with international and European law and be politically independent.

The tasks of the mission are as follows:

  • monitor, mentor and advise Kosovo authorities;
  • maintain and promote the rule of law principle, public order, peace and stability;
  • ensure that all the rule of law services are politically independent;
  • ensure proper investigation of crimes and strengthen co-operation between police and prosecution authorities;
  • strengthen co-operation and coordination in the judicial process;
  • promote the fight against corruption, fraud and financial crime;
  • implement Kosovo Anti-Corruption Strategy and Anti-Corruption Action Plan;
  • ensure respect of human rights and gender mainstreaming along with all the activities of the mission.

Pros and Cons of the Mission So Far


The most important weakness of the EULEX mission is its legitimacy among the local people. The Kosovo Security Barometer Report from 2012 shows that only 22% of the population are satisfied with the work of EULEX, in 2013 this number was 31.4%. The legitimacy is thus rising slowly, but it is still very dissatisfactory for such a large mission. Furthermore, a question was posed, “Is EULEX fair and unbiased?” and around 60% replied “no”. Only 29.20% of the respondents trust EULEX in the 2013 report. Almost 60% of them said they have little or no trust in the judicial authorities in Kosovo. In the 2013 report, 70% of the respondents think the government is corrupted and 57% believe the judicial system is no better. The public is also divided on the issue of the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina. 47% support the dialogue while 48% oppose it. The EU’s efforts to promote the dialogue might also be the key determinant as to why the EULEX mission is not viewed positively among the majority of Kosovars.

Misallocation of financial resources is also a serious shortcoming of the EULEX Kosovo mission. The table from the Kosovar Institute for Policy Research and Development (KIPRED, 2013) demonstrates how the financial resources are linked to the efficiency of judges of the EULEX mission. It is clear that EULEX spends more money per criminal case and per high profile case while the Kosovo authorities can resolve the same number of cases for 110 times lower cost. EULEX should be much more effective with such a high budget (114 mil. EUR/ year).

The lack of proper hiring procedures is also identified as one of the weaknesses of the EULEX mission. The Heads of Mission seem to be unaccountable and prove to be ineffective. For 5 years Heads of Mission were of military background and currently it is a political figure (diplomat, ambassador) from the EU. Also, the allocation of staff between the police and judiciary sections is disproportionate. More staff is allocated to the police section, which is generally viewed as less corrupted and more independent. Concomitantly, fewer personnel are appointed to the judiciary which has larger problems with susceptibility to corruption. A substantial number of staff is comprised of the seconded personnel coming from the EU member states that are usually placed in Kosovo for 1-2 years at most. This length does not prove to be enough when dealing with high level crime issues. These people also seem to be less qualified and lack expertise in the field.

As the results of the Kosovo Security Barometer from 2012 show the Kosovars are divided on the issue of dialogue with Belgrade. The EU strongly supports this dialogue and thus influences the mission’s aims. The operation in Kosovo should be about conflict prevention and strengthening the rule of law not influenced by the EU’s political agenda.


The mission’s greatest achievement is diminishing the level of corruption of the law enforcement authorities due to the presence and assistance of the EULEX staff in Kosovo. In the 2013 Corruption Index published by Transparency International, Kosovo was ranked at place 111 out of 175 countries with CPI Score 33 (100 being the “cleanest” and 0 being the most corrupted). In 2012, Kosovo was ranked at 105 with CPI Score 34. In 2011 Kosovo received CPI Score 29 in the same publication and in 2010 the number was 28. From the presented data we can see that corruption is still prevalent in Kosovo, however, the CPI Score was rising from year to year, except 2013, where the score decreased. The rise in the CPI Score is positive, however, the latest drop can be seen as a negative sign. The future development will be important to determine whether the corruption index is improving steadily.

Recommendations for Policymakers

Based on the shortcomings and achievements of the EULEX Kosovo mission, taking the following steps should be considered:

  1. Appoint a more legitimate Head of Mission: a public figure with technical approach and not someone having military or political background.
  2. Increase financial efficiency of the mission by co-operating with the Kosovo authorities in resolving crime cases and establishing a budgetary oversight.
  3. Increase the number of personnel appointed to the judiciary section in order to decrease the level of corruption and increase trust to the judiciary system.
  4. Harmonize the hiring procedure for the seconded national staff and change the working conditions so that more expertise would be required from the personnel, and prolong the length of contract for the ones working in the judiciary in order to increase efficiency of resolving cases of crime.
  5. Eliminate political pressure from the EU on EULEX and other CSDP missions since these are technical, not diplomatic missions. 

Veronika Vargová – holds a Bachelor Degree in European Studies from the Comenius University in Bratislava, Slovakia. She is currently a student at the Comenius University continuing with the Master programme in European Studies. She gained experience as a trainee in organisations such as the Slovak Governance Institute in Bratislava, PricewaterhouseCoopers Slovakia and Trans European Policy Studies Association (TEPSA) in Brussels, Belgium. Her research interests include the Middle East, the Balkans, Common Foreign and Security policy of the EU, the role of religion in politics, terrorism and security policies.

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