On 11 April 2016, the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Thorbjørn Jagland, and the European Union’s Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, Johannes Hahn, announced a new co-operation initiative of the two organisations aimed at supporting South-East Europe and Turkey in their efforts to comply with European standards. The initiative is called the European Union/Council of Europe Horizontal Facility for Western Balkans and Turkey (Horizontal Facility). The first phase of the three-year programme (May 2016 – May 2019), focused on three themes: ensuring justice, fighting corruption, economic crime and organised crime; as well as combating discrimination and protecting the rights of vulnerable groups. It had a budget of €25 million, of which €20 million had been provided by the European Union and €5 million by the Council of Europe.

Through the Horizontal Facility, the European Union and the Council of Europe assisted beneficiary countries to comply with Council of Europe standards and the European Union acquis in the framework of the enlargement process, through a complementary two-fold approach of technical co-operation and the provision of expertise. The Horizontal Facility relied 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, which highlight areas where improvements are needed in legislation and policies of the beneficiaries to comply with the Organisation’s treaties and other standards.

The actions that were implemented in Albania during the first phase of the programme are listed hereunder.