The legal basis for the Missions functioning has been set by the Council in the European Union Joint Action 2008/124/CFSP on 4 February 2008. In accordance, EULEX operates within the general framework of the UN Security Council Resolution 1244. EULEX Kosovo was established with the general aim of supporting Kosovo institutions, judicial authorities, and law enforcement agencies in developing an effective judiciary based on the rule of law and free from political interference. The Mission is the largest civilian mission launched under the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) of the European Union.
When EULEX became operational in December 2008, mapping out the strengths and weaknesses in the rule of law area within the various institutions was its first task. During the first two years of EULEXs mandate (2008-2010), the Mission was supporting Kosovo authorities by monitoring, mentoring, and advising each Rule of Law component (i.e. Judiciary, Police, and Customs). Through these activities, EULEX was assisting Kosovo institutions, judicial authorities, and law enforcement agencies in their progress towards sustainability and accountability and in further developing and strengthening an independent multi-ethnic justice system, police, and customs service.
EULEX has obtained also executive powers in the field of rule of law, in particular with respect to investigating and prosecuting serious and sensitive crimes. Pursuant to Law No. 03/L-053 on jurisdiction, case selection and case allocation of EULEX Judges and Prosecutor in Kosovo, cases have been investigated and brought to court by EULEX prosecutors and tried by panels with a majority of international judges (3 judges compose the panel according to Kosovo legislation). In addition, through mentoring, monitoring, and advising (MMA), EULEX has been supporting its counterparts in the Kosovo judicial system with capacity building measures. Fostering the independence of the judicial system and establishing court and prosecutorial procedures in compliance with international standards was at the forefront of EULEXs mandate.
In June 2010, the Mission in Kosovo was extended for a period of two years. Its main objectives remained the same. The extension of EULEXs mandate in 2012 was accompanied by a considerable downsizing of staff and restructuring of the Mission. The Mission was reconfigured with two major sections: an Executive Division, which worked on the missions executive mandate, and a Strengthening Division, which concentrates on monitoring, mentoring, and advising local counterparts.
The latest extension of the Missions mandate in June 2014 brought major changes. Pursuant to the Law on Jurisdiction, Case Selection and Case Allocation of EULEX Judges and Prosecutors in Kosovo as amended by the Law No. 04/L-273 (now called: Law on Jurisdiction and Competencies of EULEX Judges and Prosecutors in Kosovo). The composition of court panels would be majority Kosovar and minority international. The Mission would not take on new cases and would gradually hand over competencies to the Kosovo judicial system. An exception to this is the north of Kosovo, where EULEX will remain in charge of judicial proceedings until the EU Facilitated Dialogue between Pristina and Belgrade brings a solution for the judiciary.
The arrangement of June 2014 was underpinned in an exchange of letters between President Atifete Jahjaga and EU High Representative Catherine Ashton on 14 April 2014. EULEXs current mandate was accordingly modified and the number of staff was further reduced. EULEX has maintained its basic structure, i.e. two major divisions of Executive and Strengthening. The Mission has been additionally tasked to assist in the implementation of the agreements reached within the Belgrade Pristine dialogue and incorporated in the First International Agreement of Principles Governing the Normalization of Relations between the Republic of Kosovo and the Republic of Serbia signed on 19 April 2013. EULEXs current mandate expires on 14 June 2018.