The meaning of rule of law: a wolf and pony show 

Evropska komisija

In the past few months, while the Priština government was using lawfare as well as its muscle against its minorities, the European media was more taken by a story about a grave tragedy right in the heart of the Union: the one involving a wolf and a pony, its victim, who happened to be European Commission President’s favourite pony.

Dolly, the beloved 30 year old equine member of the von der Leyen household, was brutally attacked in early September, while grazing on the family’s estate close to Hannover. Her tragic demise in the jaws of a wolf (unnamed), not only prompted the local authorities to investigate the circumstances of the attack and bring the culprit to justice, but it also led to an overhaul of EU’s attitude towards wolves (and other large predators). A few days ago, while the EU was condemning “both sides” for Albin Kurti’s choice to repress Serbs and lead to their further disenfranchisement, German authorities took a decidedly less even handed approach to the wolf. After carefully analysing what exactly happened, it was decided that this wolf should be punished for its crimes, which are grave enough for it not to benefit from EU’s stringent environmental protection regulations.  

Moreover, in late November, MEPs, led by EPP, a parliamentary club to which von der Leyen is affiliated, rushed through a resolution which deemed that protections enjoyed by wolves (as well as bears and lynxes) are too vast and that these predators need to be more severely punished for the harm they do to livestock and humans in the EU. 

The curious timing of this vote, as well as the fact that similar calls from EU farmers were previously ignored, show how much the fate of a single, very beloved pony can bear on the EU and help impose a rule of law on the relationship between predators and their prey. 

On the other hand, there is much less investment in getting into the specifics of what is going on in Kosovo, where lives of humans, not ponies are at stake. 

What one still gets is equivocation and calls to all sides to lower the vaguely termed, “tensions”. A bureaucratic apparatus so determined to legislate on the relationship between predators and livestock, seems woefully disinterested in analysing what is written in the documents that are supposed to ensure peace after a bloody conflict on its doorstep, whether they were crafted in the UN or even those arbitrated by the EU itself. 

For example, Viola von Cramon-Taubadel a German MEP, who serves as a rapporteur for Kosovo and is a member of European Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs, deemed “unacceptable” a term of a UN resolution 1244 from 1999, which allows deployment of Serbian security forces to ensure safety in the region. It might be that the MEP in question is not aware that quashing terms of a resolution which stopped a war might be outside her scope of work and indeed dangerous for everybody involved.  

Von Cramon-Taubadel sadly does not seem to be the only member of the EU’s bureaucracy who does not want to help the region get more stable through respect of agreements and treaties, despite the EU’s insistence to act as a mediator. 

While wolves around Hannover got DNA tested to solve this wolf and pony whodunnit, there is little interest from the EU in investigating who attacked its own EULEX forces during the current turmoil before issuing vague statements. There is even less regard for the fates of many Serbs detained by Kurti’s police on flimsy charges, and almost no care for the continued structural repression of minorities in Kosovo. What we get, instead, is handwaving about “rule of law”. 

Still it is not out of ignorance, or naïveté. The EU is well aware that even relationships between wolves and ponies within its borders should be based on accepted rules and that any justice meted out warrants investigations, however the humans outside of it only get a dog and pony show with no regard to what was agreed upon or what is actually going on .  

Written by: Srđan Garčević, founder of the blog