The political will of the domestic political elites – or the lack of it – should be taken into account when initiating such deep reform(s) because it is a precondition for an efficient implementation of the required changes and results.
The good governance features should apply to the newly established judicial institutions and structures. Their implementation is crucial in determining the outputs and the long-term impact of the reform.
The citizens, who are the main beneficiaries of the reform, should be involved throughout the whole process from the design of the reform to its implementation and operation. Thus, there is a need to prepare information in a way that makes it easier for citizens to understand and to create external mechanisms such as involving representatives of civil society, academia or bar associations to monitor the strategic action plans of the new justice institutions.
An independent and professional judiciary stands as the cornerstone of strong democracies which are based on the rule of law. A reformed judiciary affects every segment of a society, and promoting judicial reform must remain at the heart of the EU accession process.
Independent watchdog organisations as well as well-funded and professional prosecution bodies have positively contributed to the implementation of judicial reforms in Croatia. These efforts must be continued towards a reform of the court system and overall professionalisation and depolitisation of the judiciary.
The EU enlargement process is not value-neutral and is not a one-way process. The EU focuses on the rule of law and order as to install strong, liberal democratic political systems in new member states, which, in return, strengthen the EU as a cohesive body. With this in mind, the EU’s efforts in sanctioning member states that deviate from liberal democratic standards should be fully endorsed and sanctions against EU member states that violate the EU’s rule of law standards should be applied.
Slovenia should use the priorities of its Presidency of the Council of the European Union to further promote the geopolitical importance of the region for the EU amidst the enlargement fatigue, which is weakening the credibility of the EU vis-à-vis the Western Balkans.
Slovenia should use the informal EU-Western Balkans Summit to further promote the new investment plan as an economic backbone for the ”Open Balkan” initiative in order to achieve positive progress in the EU accession process.
To prove its critics wrong, the Slovenian government should promote a positive narrative on the EU-Western Balkans relations, raise awareness regarding the negative prospects for the whole region due to Bulgaria’s veto to North Macedonia’s accession process and distance itself from the non-paper with a clear and credible agenda for the Western Balkans during the informal summit.
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