THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION REPORT
Writes: Aleksandar Krzhallovski
After Vardar became a European champion in handball last week, all the other topics were deservingly left aside. In addition to the joy it brought to the whole nation, it is important that once again it is demonstrated that we can be the first in Europe. At least in something – handball in this case. Just as two weeks earlier, Tamara demonstrated that we can be the first in Europe and in the music – at least according to the opinion of professional jurors across Europe!
Evildoers will probably say that Vardar’s success is due to the money of the Russian Samsonenko and the players who are not from Macedonia. But even in the All-England finals in the League of Europe football between Chelsea and Arsenal there was only one Englishman (out of 22 players who started the match), so nobody thinks of debating, let alone deny it being English success. In the team of Vardar, the majority are Macedonians, a total of 7 out of 18. In truth, only one of them played in the final, but the valuable – captain Stole Stoilov. And for him there is a villain calling him “player number 5”, and others who did not like that at the press conference about the won title he stated he was proud of the success of his club (Vardar), his city (Skopje) and its country, the Republic of Macedonia.
But it was last week and the euphoria of one of our few rare European successes has subsided, so it is time to go back to other current topics. One thing that remained in the shadow was the European Commission’s Progress Report on the aspirant countries for membership in the Union (the six countries from the Western Balkans and Turkey), published on May 29 in Brussels.
Besides Vardar, the reason for this partial neglect was the recently concluded elections for the European Parliament, as well as the focus on the next step after the publication of the report – the decision of the European Council to grant a date for the start of Macedonia’s negotiations with the Union. PM and the leading ministers have made extraordinary efforts to lobby to get the date now in June at the summit of EU PMs to be held on June 20-21, but it is already certain that this time (too) – there will be no date. It was pretty clear in late April, after the meeting of the PMs of the countries of the region with Merkel and Macron, as I announced in the then article “Cold Water”. However, Zaev is still optimistic and he is going to Merkel again these days, hoping that the negotiations would start by the end of the year, although the decision would be made later. Hope is always there though I am not as optimistic as the Prime Minister.
And I am not an optimist, among other things, because of everything that is written in the European Commission’s Report. Usually, the ruling coalition presents it as the best report to date and the first with a recommendation without any conditioning, and the opposition reminds that this is already the 10th recommendation and that as usual – that will not mean anything; that is, the Council will not decide to start negotiations (again – for the tenth time). As with everything in the country, it is difficult to stick to the statements of any party (especially their spokespersons), so I rely on the analysis of the colleagues from the civil sector – in this case the European Policy Institute (EPI, www.epi.org.mk), which regularly analyzes EU reports thoroughly and makes them more receptive and more understandable for the general public. Like all past years since 2011, EPI has also published its analysis of the published EU Progress Report on Macedonia. And when we look at that analysis, which mainly suggests that all the previous reports are not very different, it is fascinating to hear the diametrically opposed views of the government and the opposition for the written in the report, and it is even more fascinating to compare similar statements from a few years, when for almost the same reports, the parties themselves had completely opposite statements (since then they were on the “other side”, i.e. VMRO-DPMNE was power, and SDSM opposition). Unfortunately, it only confirms the superficiality in our leading parties, their politics and bombastic statements for daily use, as well as mediocrity on all sides, without the will and even less capacity to see what the EU really thinks (and writes) about us in the report, to analyze soberly and to act upon the findings, in order to improve the situation. On the contrary, it is important for us to point out just how good or bad it is (depending on whether a representative of the government or the opposition is commenting) in the expectation of getting a point within the voters or at least harm the opponent.
So what does the report say? Apart from the praises of both Mogherini and Hahn for the progress achieved, with the exceptional significance of the agreement reached with Greece, a truly clear and unequivocal recommendation for the start of the negotiations, in fact the EPI analysis, and in particular the assessments (interpretations with figures 0 to 5 of the phrases used in the report) shows that there is not much progress. Even worse, in the level of compliance with the European legislation, we are almost at the same level as last year – there is no improvement in 32 out of 33 areas, and there is only in one – the judiciary, by half a point (from 2 to 2.5).
In six chapters we have a score of 0 (zero – no progress); in 21 we have 1 (one – unsatisfactory progress) and in six chapters we have score 2 (little progress). We do not have scores of 3, 4 or 5. In truth, we have rarely had such scores… the only two “three” are in 2011 and 2013 respectively. But we have also rarely had zeros – from 2011 to 2015 in total only three, then 6 (as now) in 2016, and record 8 in the last report – 2018. So, with an average of exactly 1.00, this is actually one of the worse progress reports compared to the previous year/report. In fact, it is the third worst, out of eight, since when the EPI has been doing this analysis. Only the previous two were worse (2016 with 0.88 average progress and 2018 with just 0.82). All others have an average of over 1 (from 1.03 in 2015, to 1.27 in 2011 when the progress was the best).
The second component of the analysis is the compliance with EU legislation, also in all 33 chapters. As I stated above, the level of compliance is only half a point better than last year (in chapter 23 – judiciary) and has a total grade of 98.5 (out of possible 165) or an average of 2.98 (out of 5). As in the other case, here it is better than the last two reports (2016 and 2018), as well as from 2015. The situation in 2012 and 2013 was a bit worse, and more than the years 2011 and 2014 when we were most consensual (3,15 and 3,18 respectively). And here, we do not have 5, and we have two 1! Not that it was much better before, but we also had “fives” in two areas, both in 2011 – probably surprising again – in number 5: Public procurement and in 31: Foreign policy (this was retained in 2012 and 2013 ).
All in all, it is not good. Of course, one can begin to relativize with the numbers (whether it was measured in the same way, through the “changed context” and especially the changed perception of the situation), but only to indicate that the grade/objects of the assessment (chapters) are the same 33 all the time, and the teacher who evaluates is the same (the European Commission).
The point of the text is not to “measure” when it was better or worse, why the main conclusion is that it is fairly equally bad in all previous years.
The progress throughout the whole period is insufficient and, unfortunately, is in favor of countries that have a problem with awarding a date for negotiation on the basis of sound arguments, rather than individual flashes, no matter how impressive and widely supported by those same countries.
Therefore, as some of them say, even more civil organizations, we have got used to noting that “Prespa is not enough” and that “Priebe” is primary for the EU’s progress, it takes hard work (with or without a broom, whatever) and doing much more and much better in almost all areas.
- Full EPI report can be found on the following link:
and the tables in the same report that are used in this analysis are shown below:
|1.||Free movement of goods||1||2||1||1||1||1||0||0||3||4||4||4||3||3||3||3|
|2.||Freedom of movement for workers||1||1||1||1||1||1||0||0||1||1||1||1||1||1||1||1|
|3.||Right of establishment and freedom to provide services||1||1||1||1||1||1||0||1||1||3||3||3||3||3||3||3|
|4.||Free movement of capital||1||1||1||1||1||1||1||1||3||3||3||3||3||3||3||3|
|7.||Intellectual property law||1||1||1||1||1||1||1||1||3||3||3||3||3||3||3||3|
|10.||Information society and media||1||1||1||2||1||0||0||1||3||3||3||3||4||4||3||3|
|11.||Agriculture and rural development||1||1||1||1||1||1||1||1||3||3||3||3||3||3||3||3|
|12.||Food safety, veterinary and phytosanitary policy||2||2||2||1||1||1||1||2||4||3||3||3||2||2||4||4|
|17.||Economic and monetary policy||3||1||1||1||1||1||1||1||4||4||4||4||3||3||3||3|
|19.||Social policy and employment||1||1||1||1||1||1||1||1||2||2||1||3||3||3||3||3|
|20.||Enterprise and industrial policy||1||1||1||1||1||1||0||1||3||3||3||3||3||3||3||3|
|22.||Regional policy and coordination of structural instruments||1||1||1||1||0||1||1||1||3||3||2||2||3||3||3||3|
|23.||Judiciary and fundamental rights||1||1||1||1||0||0||2||2||3||3||3||4||2||2||2||2.5|
|24.||Justice, freedom and security||1||1||1||1||1||1||2||2||4||4||4||4||3||3||3||3|
|25.||Science and research||1||1||2||2||2||1||1||1||2||2||2||3||4||4||4||4|
|26.||Education and culture||1||1||1||1||1||1||1||1||3||3||3||3||3||3||3||3|
|28.||Consumer and health protection||1||1||1||1||1||0||0||0||3||3||3||3||3||3||3||3|
|31.||Foreign, Security and Defense Policy||2||2||3||1||1||1||1||1||5||5||5||3||3||3||3||3|
|33.||Financial and budgetary provisions||1||1||0||1||1||1||1||1||3||1||1||1||1||1||1||1|
*The text is written exclusively for the purposes of Inbox 7. For each republishing, a consent by the editors must be obtained. Inbox 7 does not always agree with the opinions and views of the authors in the debate section.