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European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations
News article15 September 2017Directorate-General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations

Press Release on the 2017 Report of the Senior Experts' Group on systemic Rule of Law issues in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia

In the context of its ongoing support to the reform efforts in the country, European Commission has asked the same independent senior rule of law experts who prepared a report in 2015 to assess the progress made in implementing their previous...

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In the context of its ongoing support to the reform efforts in the country, European Commission has asked the same independent senior rule of law experts who prepared a report in 2015 to assess the progress made in implementing their previous recommendations. Following a visit to the country from 17-21 July where they met relevant Ministers and civil servants, judiciary and prosecution services, independent and regulatory bodies, media, civil society as well as representatives of government and opposition parties, relevant parliamentary committees and members of Constitutional Court, the group has drawn up the attached report.

Their report assesses the situation with regard to interception of communications, the state of judiciary and prosecution, oversight bodies and media, and makes recommendations to the new government on how to address persistent systemic shortcomings in these areas. This time, the group did not assess the state of play with regard to elections as this is covered by other processes. Other critical areas which also require attention (such as police reform, the situation in prisons, etc.) are not addressed in their report, nor does it provide a comprehensive overview of measures in relation to fighting corruption and organised crime.

The views expressed in the report are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the opinion of the European Commission. However, the European Commission fully recognises the validity of the experts' assessment in the fields covered by this report and it endorses their recommendations.

The European Commission expects the national authorities, together with all relevant stakeholders – including the parliamentary opposition, public institutions, the media and civil society – to play their role in addressing these systemic issues and to avoid repeating mistakes of the past. It is high time to get the country back on the EU track through the implementation of the necessary reforms.

As a follow-up to this report, the European Commission will use all the tools at its disposal to support the country's efforts, through political dialogue, technical and financial assistance, as well as targeted peer-review missions.

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