Dear all, I had the pleasure to meet the majority of you recently and discuss with you the state of play, and your own key achievements and concerns, related to the implementation of the justice reform. Today, I will be very brief, in respect of the technical nature of this Stakeholders’ committee.
I am here today exceptionally, being aware that this is one of the last stakeholders’ meetings of EURALIUS V. An EU-funded project that deserves my special thanks for the support it has provided so far to basically all justice institutions in Albania, for the resilience shown under times of pressure and particularly for the perseverance in the last year, for never stopping to work during the pandemic period.
I would like to make 3 fundamental remarks today:
Firstly, EURALIUS – alongside PAMECA – has been one of the most important cooperation projects in the field of rule of law in Albania. For the EU, it has been the largest project – in terms of both budget and scope – in the field of justice. It is so for a good reason.
The project started at the same time as the implementation of the justice reform and was meant to support all needs of all the new institutions created by the reform. A huge challenge, which the team has taken on with courage and professionalism. The project has brought together the best EU expertise and top local expertise and as we speak, the ‘Euralius model’ is being replicated in Bosnia & Hercegovina, North Macedonia and Kosovo.
Euralius is now entering the last months of its implementation (ending in December 2021), but it remains to be a key supporter in a number of key priorities of the justice reform.
First, the work on the efficiency of the judiciary, directly supporting the High Court and other courts, is in my view the priority of priorities. Focusing on delivering on the basic expectation of the citizens: efficiently delivering justice.
Second, the continued peer-to-peer support for the High Judicial Council, the High Prosecutorial Council and the High Justice Inspector. This support continues on daily basis, including work on by-laws, regulations and working materials. Support which is fundamentally important for securing some of the greatest gains of the justice reform – the independence and integrity of the justice system.
Third, the support to SPAK. Although not the primary focus of EURALIUS (due to the expertise provided by PAMECA, the NBI international commission, and the new EU project focused on financial investigation, EUR 5.5 million), EURALIUS has stood by the side of SPAK in building their capacity to deliver on what is probably the most visible – certainly recently – achievement of the reform: showing that nobody is above the law, bringing corrupt officials and magistrates to justice and confiscating assets of organised crime groups. We are all aware here that more is needed, but we are seeing the fruits of the reform and of the EU support.
My second remark concerns the confirmation that Justice Reform remains one of the top priorities for the EU in Albania. The EU investment in the sector speaks lauder than words in this regards. Over 50 million EUR, in the form of direct budget support, grant and other forms of assistance so far. And while Euralius V will end in December, we are already making sure not to leave any gap in the EU support.
Euralius – a broad-spectrum broad-mandate project – has done its job in helping you take the justice reform off the ground. Now – when all of you are already sitting firmly around this table, with your varied mandates and challenges – now is the time for a next generation of EU-funded support projects, responding in a tailor-made fashion to your particular needs. Between now and the end of the next year, we will see a new project dedicated to the support of the Ministry of Justice in its coordinating and reporting role, continuation of support to the High Judicial Council and High Justice Inspector, new dedicated team helping the High Prosecutorial Council, the General Prosecutor and SPAK, as well as a dedicated peer-to-peer programme for the School of Magistrates. (Total budget of the new projects in the pipeline is EUR 9 million).
EU will not stop or pause support to the justice system and justice institutions.
My third remark is about your role: It is precisely in this moment in time where two key skills are required from the judicial institutions and the Ministry: leadership and competence. By leadership I mean coordination, cooperation and ability to reach an agreement. Competence from my perspective is the ability and drive to apply the highest EU standards possible.
EURALIUS – and any future cooperation project – are only tools in your hands. They are there to assist you, they are not a solution to your problems.
What really matters is that you show the leadership and competence to choose the right advice at the right time. Therefore, I truly hope, at any point in time, you will make use of it constructively, with a solution and cooperation minded attitude, for the success of the justice reform.
Thank you to all for the great cooperation and work done so far. Thanks to this entire team!
As to the rest of today’s discussion, I leave it to the Euralius experts and all of you, beneficiaries of our assistance, and to my EUD colleagues, to have more detailed discussions on the concrete activities to be presented today.
Punë të mbarë dhe faleminderit!