The rule of law in Montenegro between deep polarisation and an unstable majority – how to get back on track?

Policy Recommendations

  1. The government should develop precise roadmaps in the EU accession talks and a clear framework for strengthening the rule of law. The measures should include better defined indicators and activities while insisting on more specific tasks on an annual basis within the interim benchmarks to facilitate both performance assessment and monitoring of progress. A new model of reporting based on a simplified form, which would include an overview of key challenges in meeting the benchmarks and thus strengthening the rule of law, would be advisable as well.
  2. The new parliamentary majority and all parties in the parliament should strive to remove political influence from the judiciary and find solutions that will enable the strengthening of institutions and ensuring their impartiality. As the EU insists on a broad consensus on these issues, and society is in a state of deep polarisation, a kind of mediation between the two blocs, the majority and the opposition, is needed. In this way, the selection of the best candidates in the judiciary, especially where envisaged membership of the academy (civil society), which will not be close to any party, and thus impartial law enforcement will be ensured and politicisation avoided.
  3. The government should fully open the reforms to the public to allow public scrutiny and impartial evaluation.

Lessons learned from the justice reform in Albania

Policy Recommendations

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Rule of Law and Justice in Croatia after the EU accession

Policy Recommendations

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Τhe Rule of Law and Foreign Direct Investment in the Western Balkans: The Greek Experience

Policy Recommendations

  1. Western Balkan states should reinforce the regulatory and institutional framework and empower independent authorities so as to mitigate political bargaining and interventions.
  2. Western Balkan states should establish appropriate environmental standards for business activity in line with the EU’s acquis communautaire in order to attract ‘green’ Foreign Direct Investments.
  3. The EU should focus on the genuine compliance of Western Balkan states with EU standards and on the comprehensive application of adopted legislation.

Who Summons the Dragon? China’s demand-driven influence in Central-Eastern Europe and the Western Balkans

A political and economic regional comparison

Based on a mixed-method methodology cross-cutting the political/economical divide, our latest brief shows that while China wants to increase its economic and political influence in the region, there is a significant difference between the story we hear and the facts we see. Despite China’s efforts to leverage vulnerabilities in the region, its political influence seems to be still relatively low. Economic influence by itself cannot match Western economic ties either. Political engagement with China is shaped mostly by domestic factors and geopolitical considerations, particularly those related to security.

The Western Balkans in need for change. A wake-up call for Europe!

The coronavirus pandemic deepens vulnerabilities of the Western Balkan countries and exposes the weakness of state institutions in the region, especially in the health sector and with regards to social protection. At the same time, and related to the rather limited effectiveness of the EU enlargement process over the past years, the implementation of reforms has stagnated and some countries even experienced concerning regressions of the rule of law.

On behalf of the WB2EU network co-funded by the European Commission under its Erasmus+ Jean Monnet programme (www.wb2eu.eu)