EU Reports on Progress of Acceding, Potential and Candidate Countries
Thursday, December 1, 2005 2:35 PM

On Wednesday November 9, 2005, the European Commission issued status reports for the EU the acceding countries of Bulgaria and Romania, the candidate states of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Serbia and Montenegro and Turkey as well as the potential candidate country of Macedonia. Each report discusses the progress the country has made toward accession goals, including those that address women's rights.


Bulgaria is recognized as a country of origin and transit for victims of human trafficking, primarily for sexual exploitation. The protections currently available for victims of trafficking are inadequate, but in September 2005, implementing rules were adopted for the law creating the witness protection program. In February 2005, the government created a National Plan to combat trafficking, including efforts to improve resources and services for victims, implement better legislation and raise awareness about the issue.

Bulgaria has met most of the requirements established in its negotiating agreement regarding the equal treatment of men and women, but additional progress in this area is needed in the legal structure. It is on track to implement this acquis.


Romania is a country of origin, transit and destination for victims of trafficking, most of whom are sexually exploited. The country has a National Action Plan, but the Commission notes that it has had a limited impact. A National Office for Trafficking Prevention and Victim Monitoring was established in September 2004 and in January 2005, a law protecting victims entered into force. By March, a standardized form was being used to track victims and in July 2005, the government decided to allow trafficking victims to remain in the country for 90 days to "recover, free themselves of the influence of the traffickers and decide whether to cooperate with the Romanian authorities." (Progress Report for Romania) There are still improvements that need to made regarding program funding and victim assistance.

Romania has met the requirements set forth in their accession negotiations regarding equal treatment of men and women and is on track to implement this acquis.


The Commission recognized Macedonia's efforts to combat trafficking in human beings with the criminalization of trafficking and smuggling and the adoption of the trafficking protocols of the UN Convention against Trans-National Organized Crime. The country also established a National Commission and a National Program to combat human trafficking that is in accord with international standards.The Commission noted the need for cooperation on a common strategy to combat trafficking in the region.

The Commission also noted that Macedonia amended the Law on Family and the Criminal Code to more effectively address domestic violence, but that implementation and impact have not yet been realized. The Commission calls for strengthened domestic violence, sexual harassment and rape laws.


The Commission noted that there is little to report regarding gender equality in the labor force. As to equal opportunities, Croatian laws still tend to overprotect women, disallowing work in certain areas and at certain times and legal changes must be made.

Croatia has criminalized trafficking in human beings and no problems have been reported regarding implementation.


In this 2005 report, the Commission called attention to its 2004 report, in which it recognized Turkey's legislative progress in the way of human rights and political reform, but expressed the need to broaden and implement the changes. Included in this change was women's rights. Since that time, the Parliament has created a Committee on Violence against Women and Children, which will focus on the elimination of honor killings. Overall however, Turkey has made little progress in the way of women's rights. The Commission notes that domestic violence, honor killings, a high illiteracy rate and low civic participation and low participation in the labor market remain in force and the implementation of the laws noted above is inadequate. All of these factors result in discrimination against women.

Physical and psychological violence is still prevalent in families, and sexual abuse, forced marriage, polygamy, and trafficking are also still reported. Turkey is combatting trafficking in human beings with an anti-trafficking information campaign, an emergency hotline for victims, training of professionals who deal with victims and a repatriation program. One shelter has opened for victims of trafficking and some victims have received humanitarian parole to remain in the country.

Turkey's Parliament issues a Report on Women's Rights and Gender Equality however, and in November 2004, a law establishing the Directorate General on the Status of Women entered into effect. In 2005, it launched a campaign to raise awareness about violence against women. An Advisory Board on the Status of Women, comprising representatives from various ministries and from academic institutions and NGOs, was created in August 2005 to develop a plan for implementing the state's policies regarding the status of women.

To effect change, the European Commission calls on Turkey to: gather statistical data; establish an effective monitoring system for victims of domestic violence; implement the legislative amendments; and provide training to law enforcement officers, health care and social workers, and the judiciary; and improve the resources that are available to victims. The Commission acknowledges that Turkey as increased the number of women's shelters, but notes that there is a need for a greater number of shelters that are provided with financial and technical support. In addition, the Commission notes the efforts of Turkey to bring the shelters in line with international standards, including standards relating to confidentiality.

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Bosnia accepted the Beijing Platform for Action and is implementing the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. In 1993, the country enacted a Law on Gender Equality and it now has an Agency for Gender Equality as well as two Entity Gender Centers. Practice currently lags behind the legislation however and domestic violence, often unreported, is still a problem as is trafficking in human beings. Women from are often trafficked from and through Bosnia and Herzegovina to countries in western Europe. Since 2003, trafficking in humans has been defined as a major crime in the criminal code . In June 1994 a by-law on the Protection of Victims of Trafficking entered into force and in April 2005, a National Action Plan was adopted to combat trafficking for the years 2005 to 2007. Support has been provided to NGOs providing shelter, but overall, protection of victims remains inadequate.


The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination is directly applicable in Kosovo. Gender inequality is seen through Kosovo's society, including in employment, where women are disproportionately represented in unemployment figures and earn less than men. Domestic violence and human trafficking are still serious problems that Kosovo must address. In 2004, Kosovo did pass an anti-discrimination law and a law on gender equality and there is a regulation prohibiting domestic violence and trafficking. The government adopted an Action Plan on the Achievement of Gender Equality in 2004 and in 2005, the Office of Gender Equality was established. The goverment also adopted an Action Plan to Combat Trafficking in May 2005 and organized a working group to carry out the plan. The government installed gender officers in every ministry and created an inter-ministerial working group on gender equality. There are also gender equality committees at the municipal level. Despite all of these changes, the Assembly continues to pass discriminatory laws and because of a lack of resources and skill, the laws that should protect against gender inequality are not being implemented.

Serbia and Montenegro

Serbia does not have an anti-discrimination law but it is a signatory to the relevant international anti-discrimination instruments. It is still working on developing coordinated a coordinated action plan for gender equality. The Councils on Gender Equality have made little progress. Domestic violence is of particular concern in Serbia and trafficking is a problem in Montenegro. National teams working to combat trafficking must strengthen their efforts and improve cooperation. Serbia has a call center and a shelter for victims of trafficking and legislation in both Serbia and Montenegro differentiates between smuggling immigrants and human trafficking.

Compiled from: Mark Beunderman, High Stakes for Turkey and Macedonia in EU ReportsEU Observer, 8 November 2005;
Bulgaria 2005 Comprehensive Monitoring Report, European Commission, 9 November 2005 (PDF, 88 pages);
Romania 2005 Comprehensive Monitoring Report, European Commission, 9 November 2005 (PDF, 102 pages);
Croatia 2005 Progress Report, European Commission, 9 November 2005 (PDF, 117 pages);
Turkey 2005 Progress Report, European Commission, 9 November 2005 (PDF, 146 pages);
Analytical Report for the Opinion on the application from the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia for EU membership, European Commission. 9 November 2005 (PDF, 142 pages);
Bosnia and Herzegovina 2005 Progress Report, European Commission, 9 November 2005 (PDF, 76 pages);
Kosovo 2005 Progress Report, European Commission, 9 November 2005 (PDF, 63 pages);
Serbia and Montenegro 2005 Progress Report, European Commission, 9 November 2005 (PDF, 62 pages).