Newsletter 11/2011 - Activities in brief

South East European ministers endorse regional strategy on justice and home affairs

Ministers of justice and interior of the South-East European Cooperation Process (SEECP) endorsed Regional Strategic Document on Justice and Home Affairs 2011-2013 and the Action Plan for its implementation at a two-day conference in Budva, Montenegro, held on 16-18 March 2011.

The Regional Strategic Document was developed by the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) Secretariat and delegated representatives of national judicial and home affairs institutions from South East Europe, regional organizations, European Union institutions and agencies, international organizations, national and international experts, non-governmental organizations and professional associations.

The strategy coherently summarizes regional priorities and strategic objectives for the period 2011-2013 in the fight against organized crime and corruption; migration, asylum, or refugee issues; protection of fundamental rights; cooperation in administrative and civil law matters, with special attention to child protection; as well as police and judicial (courts and prosecutors) cooperation.

“The Regional Strategic Document on Justice and Home Affairs is of crucial importance for our countries, creating a unique platform to address pressing issues in this priority area, thus providing us with adequate tools to ensure European standards when it comes to law enforcement and judicial cooperation,” said Hido Biscevic, RCC Secretary General, while addressing the ministerial conference.

“The strategic document has been developed in order to provide better integration, more coherence and transparency. By enhancing regional cooperation, it aims to harmonise legislation and practices with the EU requirements but also to best suit the region’s specific needs.”

The Steering Group on Regional Strategy (SGRS), set up as a monitoring body by the participating Ministers, will establish the reporting mechanism on regional activities and regional monitoring tools to assess the level of regional cooperation within justice and home affairs area, as envisaged by the Regional Strategic Document.

The future RCC role will consist of guiding and monitoring the implementation of the Document. RCC will serve as a facilitator among different international organizations and the countries involved, bringing together regional actors and international partners.

The first evaluation report on the implementation of the Document will be prepared by the end of 2011. 

Role of Western Balkan parliaments in EU accession discussed in Sarajevo

Role of national parliaments in Western Balkans and Turkey in negotiations for EU accession was the main topic of discussion at a two-day meeting held in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, on 17-18 March 2011. The meeting, hosted by the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) Secretariat, was co-organized with the European Commission’s Enlargement Directorate-General.

The goal of the event prepared under the framework of the European Union’s Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) Multi-Beneficiary (MB) Sector Working Group on Public Administration and Governance was to create a platform for development of a regional project to be funded through the IPA MB.

Jelica Minic, Deputy RCC Secretary General, in her opening remarks recalled that parliamentary cooperation has a key role in fostering realisation of common efforts for harmonization and alignment of legislation with the EU acquis.  

“RCC efforts in strengthening parliamentary cooperation are being concretized through the intention of the European Commission to include parliamentary cooperation, for the first time, in the framework of the Multi-Beneficiary IPA Strategy 2011-2013. Cooperation of national parliaments of the region is among the three priority areas of the MB IPA Working Group on Public Administration and Governance.”

Pascal Herry from the Regional Programmes Unit of the Directorate-General for Enlargement at the European Commission explained that MB IPA funds are meant for joint regional projects focusing on promotion of dialogue and cooperation.

“The aim is to develop one cooperation project to be funded through IPA, probably as of the next year. We want to improve the existing cooperation of parliamentarians from the region and, if possible, establish new mechanisms to support even more efficient cooperation among the parliaments.”

As agreed by the participants, it is expected that a joint cooperation project would be completed and forwarded for EU funding by the end of the year. 

The regional meeting gathered secretary generals and chairpersons of the committees for European integration of national parliaments from Western Balkans and Turkey, as well as representatives of relevant international organisations and other stakeholders.

The next parliamentary meeting is scheduled for the beginning of summer 2011.