2016 EU Enlargement Package published
On 9 November, the European Commission published its annual Enlargement Package assessing where accession countries stand in implementing key political and economic reforms en route to joining the European Union. LGBTI rights retained a central role within the fundamental rights section of the reports.
The reports welcome developments of legal frameworks, and action plans, while also highlighting that the mere passing of these laws is far from the finish line. The reports are critical of lack of proper investigation of hate crimes, of lack of progress outside cities, and pervasive negative public attitudes throughout the region which need to be addressed. They also reference the crucial role of training enforcement bodies, police officers, judges, prosecutors, health workers and teachers, of tackling discrimination in education establishments, and more.
Positively, the reports even make reference to developments beyond EU’s acquis. For example, the report for Bosnia and Herzegovina states that “no efforts were taken to simplify the procedure of legal sex change ”, and thus the trans community remains marginalised, while the report on Serbia criticizes the absence of any kind of legal gender recognition procedure. The report on Albania mentions same-sex cohabitation, and one on Montenegro highlights progress on the way to a law on civil partnership. Both issues are ones which the EU has typically shied away from as ones that are not covered by its acquis.