The European Union and Council of Europe are extending the Horizontal Facility for the Western Balkans and Turkey joint programme to help strengthen rule of law, fight against corruption and against discrimination, as well as media freedoms in the Western Balkans and Turkey.
The second phase of the programme (worth ca. €41 million between 2019 and 2022) will be launched at a regional event in Skopje on 9 October 2019. This phase 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.
Working closely with authorities and other stakeholders, the programme will help bringing about changes to laws and practices through reviews of legislation, improving the efficiency of justice system of all beneficiaries, training courses for professionals and sharing of information, experiences and best practices.
The first phase of the programme included various beneficiary-specific and regional initiatives and ran from 2016 to 2019. Over this period, this joint programme has delivered results which are important for the citizens of the Western Balkans, such as improved prison systems and better rights of inmates, more tolerant school environments and more effective anti-corruption laws and measures. The Horizontal Facility contributed to make justice systems more efficient for citizens and to increase harmonisation of judgments based on European standards. In terms of anti-discrimination, the programme aims for people that are from vulnerable groups not to be excluded on basis of identity but will have same opportunities.
*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.