Von Cramon: EC watered down Serbia progress report

viola fon kramon

The last European Commission report on Serbia is a blatant example of how rule of law standards can be compromised under a Commissioner representing Viktor Orbán’s ideology, Viola von Cramon-Taubadel MEP wrote in an opinion piece for the Euractiv portal.

Von Cramon said that the European Commission “has officially gone below its own and European standards by watering down the Serbian 2021 progress report on the rule of law standards in particular”.

“The target was clear – the independence of the judiciary, as this pattern is already applied in both Hungary and Poland. Briefly, Serbia is undergoing constitutional amendments whereby it intends to improve the independence of the judiciary. The constitutional amendments should, among other things, amend the composition of the State Prosecutorial Council, which chooses the prosecutors,” she added and recalled that the Venice Commission criticized some of the solutions in the amendments and issued explicit recommendations on the Prosecutorial Council.

“This is thus a blatant example of how the European Commission became politicised for the interest of the Orbán-Vučić axis and that the rule of law standards can be compromised under the Commission’s watch,” Von Cramon said.

“The Serbian opposition, NGOs and independent media are under intense pressure from the regime and have recently held demonstrations arguing that political spin about positive grades in the Progress report might be the last nail in Serbia’s EU integration coffin. The EU must restore its credibility by applying strict conditionality and fair assessment and not merely pretending to do so. Furthermore, we must thoroughly investigate the level of institutional capture and restore the Commission’s integrity, which should be again the Guardian of Treaties. There must be no compromise on the rule of law in either the Berlaymont or Budapest and Belgrade. What is at stake is the integrity of the European Commission in the Western Balkans and the EU as a whole,” she wrote.

“For years, we have been listening that the Fundamentals – primarily the rule of law and other principles enshrined in Article 2 TEU – are the conditions for a country aspiring to become a fully-fledged EU member state. To put it concretely, if you do not have an independent judiciary and equal treatment for all before the law, you cannot make it to the Union,” she wrote.