What is the Horizontal Facility?

The European Union/Council of Europe Horizontal Facility for the Western Balkans and Turkey (Horizontal Facility II) 2019-2022 is a co-operation initiative of the European Union and Council of Europe for the Western Balkans and Turkey. It is one of the results of the Statement of Intent signed on 1 April 2014 by the Secretary General of the Council of Europe and the European Union Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy, in which both Organisations agreed to further strengthen their co-operation in key areas of joint interest.

The first phase of the programme included various beneficiary-specific and regional initiatives and ran from 2016 to 2019. The second phase of the programme (worth €41 million between 2019 and 2022) keeps building on the results of the phase I and broadens the thematic areas to new topics crucial for the region – freedom of expression and media.

The second phase of the programme will cover actions in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo*, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia as well as Turkey and the regional dimension of the programme will be strengthened. The Expertise Co-ordination Mechanism that provides legislative expertise and policy advice within the Council of Europe system will remain an important part of the programme available to all beneficiaries.

Why the Horizontal Facility II?

The Horizontal Facility programme has been developed as a flexible mechanism that  supports Beneficiary-tailored reform processes in the areas of rule of law, democracy and human rights with the aim for its Beneficiaries to comply with European standards.

By strengthening the capacities of  Beneficiaries to tackle key issues in these areas and implement recommendations of relevant Council of Europe monitoring and expert bodies, the Horizontal Facility contributes to a better life for the citizens of the Western Balkans and Turkey.

How long will the Horizontal Facility II last?

The Horizontal Facility II is being implemented by the Council of Europe from May 2019 over a period of 36 months.

How much will the Horizontal Facility II cost?

The envelope of this facility amounts to ca. 41 Million EUR (85% funded by the European Union, 15% by the Council of Europe).

What will the Horizontal Facility II do?

Through the Horizontal Facility, the European Union and the Council of Europe  assist Beneficiaries to comply with Council of Europe standards and European Union acquis in the framework of the enlargement process. The Horizontal Facility relies on the Council of Europe’s unique working methods, whereby tailor-made technical co-operation activities are based on conclusions and recommendations of the Council of Europe’s monitoring bodies. These conclusions and recommendations highlight for the Beneficiaries areas where improvements are needed in their legislation and policies  to comply with the Organisation’s treaties and other standards.

Themes covered by the Horizontal Facility include:

  • Ensuring justice;
  • Fighting economic crime;
  • Combating discrimination and protecting the rights of vulnerable groups (including LGBTI, minorities and Roma) and
  • Freedom of expression and freedom of the media.

All the themes are key priorities of the two Organisations in the Western Balkans region and Turkey.

All Horizontal Facility actions address cross-cutting issues such as gender mainstreaming, protection of minorities and vulnerable groups and foresee the engagement of civil society organisations in the implementation of the programme.

Who coordinates the Horizontal Facility II?

A co-ordination mechanism between the Council of Europe, European Union, Council of Europe Field Offices, European Union Delegations and the so-called Horizontal Facility Beneficiary Co-ordinators (officials of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs or European Integration Offices appointed by the authorities of the Beneficiaries to act as focal points for the implementation of the Horizontal Facility) has been established to ensure inclusive and comprehensive co-ordination between the Council of Europe, the European Union,  stakeholders and partners in the jurisdictions concerned, as well as with other international organisations.

This co-ordination mechanism ensures synergies with other existing and planned actions in the region and facilitates the Horizontal Facility’s  tangible and sustainable results for the beneficiaries and the general public.

More information about the Horizontal Facility II


* This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo Declaration of Independence.