Freeing a Captured State: What Role for EU Accession? Lessons from the Macedonian Case
by dr. Simonida Kacarska, Director and Co-Founder of European Policy Institute, Skopje
In 2017 the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia experienced the most difficult turnover of power since its independence with a government formed six months after the December 2016 elections. The change of government came after a wiretapping scandal in early 2015 had revealed large-scale, high-level corruption, massive infringements on the right to private communications, and a lack of control over the state intelligence and security agencies. In the fall of 2016, the European Commission vested with monitoring the progress of the candidates for EU accession, raised concerns about state capture in its annual report. With this assessment, it questioned the functioning of the checks and balances system in the country. The Commission argued that the Assembly had failed to provide an effective oversight to the executive power, the justice system was not independent, and the authorities showed no willingness to resolve these issues. The oversight of the executive by the regulatory and supervisory bodies was also limited since they were under political pressure. A later (much-praised) assessment conducted in September 2017 described this type of state capture as “more precisely characterised as the capture of the judiciary and prosecution by the executive power”.