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.


How long will the Horizontal Facility II last?

The Horizontal Facility is a three-year programme, which 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 EU, 15% by the CoE).


What will the Horizontal Facility II do?

Through the Horizontal Facility, the European Union and the Council of Europe will assist beneficiaries in the Western Balkans 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 highlight areas where improvements are needed in legislation and policies of the beneficiaries 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 will address cross-cutting issues such as gender mainstreaming, protection of minorities and vulnerable groups and foresees the engagement of civil society organisations in the implementation of the Horizontal Facility.


How does the Horizontal Facility II work?

Actions to be undertaken in the Horizontal Facility Beneficiaries were designed based on recommendations emanating from Council of Europe monitoring and opinion/advisory bodies, and prioritised according to the needs within the enlargement negotiations of the European Union.

The Horizontal Facility follows a two-fold approach, including technical assistance and legal/policy advice:

  • Technical assistance under the Horizontal Facility is based on the CoE “triangle” of standard setting, monitoring and co-operation which represents the Council of Europe’s strongest comparative advantage. Hence, actions to be implemented will address shortcomings identified by CoE monitoring/expert bodies on ensuring justice, fighting economic crime and combating discrimination, with a view to supporting Horizontal Facility Beneficiaries in meeting increasing compliance with CoE standards. In addition, the actions implemented will aim at facilitating pre-accession beneficiaries’ progress regarding the implementation of Chapters 23 and 24. This will be done through a variety of activities such as training seminars, assessments (for example of the implementation of certain pieces of legislation or policy documents, institutional arrangements, operational capacities of certain institutions), support to the drafting of new legislative provisions / policy documents / methodologies, guidelines / handbooks (etc.) and exchanges of good practices.
  • The Expertise Co-ordination Mechanism will provide expertise within the Council of Europe system to respond to requests for legislative expertise and policy advice on ensuring justice, fighting economic crime and combating discrimination, as well as freedom of expression and the media, and constitutional issues falling within the mandate of the European Commission for Democracy through Law (known as the Venice Commission). This will be done in full respect of the independence and functioning specificities of the Council of Europe monitoring mechanisms and will provide a key support to accession processes to the EU.

The main partners in the definition and implementation of this programme include – depending on the theme concerned - ministries of justice, interior, health, education, human rights and foreign affairs; courts, prosecutorial services and judicial supervisory bodies; public governance structures with specific responsibilities in the relevant areas such as anti-corruption, anti-money laundering or anti-trafficking in human beings; ombudspersons, law enforcement authorities; penitentiary institutions; legal professionals; civil society organisations and education facilities. Ministries of foreign affairs and/or institutions for European Integration are key partners in the co-ordination of the Horizontal Facility.


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 concerned 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, the stakeholders and partners in the jurisdictions concerned as well as with other international organisations.

This co-ordination mechanism will ensure synergies with other existing and planned actions in the region and will ensure tangible and sustainable results Horizontal Facility for the final beneficiaries and the general public.




*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.