The European Union and Council of Europe joined forces in a partnership with key national actors and stakeholders to continue to contribute to the country’s reform agenda and produce tangible results for the benefit of the citizens of Montenegro. This was confirmed during the first meeting of the Beneficiary Steering Committee of the joint European Union/Council of Europe programme “Horizontal Facility for Western Balkans and Turkey 2019-2022”.
Hermann Spitz, the Head of Cooperation Sector at the Delegation of the European Union to Montenegro, focused on the support that the programme is providing to institutions, which benefit from the technical assistance, capacity building, expertise, and exchange of experiences.
“Beneficiary countries have to act with determination and double their efforts in the area of rule of law, independence of the judiciary and fundamental rights in order to complete the political, economic, and social transformation that citizens are waiting for”, Spitz stressed.
Milena Šofranac Ljubojević, from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, noted that the programme has produced concrete results in improving the lives of the citizens.
“The second phase of the Horizontal Facility speaks about the success of the last phase and also means that there are still many things to do in the following years. I would like to emphasise the progress in the area of judicial reform where special attention has been dedicated to the European Court of Human Rights and the implementation of its decisions”, explained Ljubojević.
Delphine Freymann, from the Council of Europe, emphasised the trust that has been established in the Horizontal Facility Programme and its continued added value in addressing key reforms in the country.
“It is important to preserve the ownership developed by our partners and further increase commitments and the institutional follow up to ensure the sustainability of the results and our co-operation in the years to come”, Freymann stated.
The second phase of the programme to be conducted between 2019 and 2022, with an increased dedicated funding of EUR 41 million, builds on the results of the first phase and broadens the scope of the initiative with its stronger regional dimension, and the inclusion of new topics such as freedom of expression and freedom of media. In Montenegro EUR 4.7 million have been allocated for seven projects, covering all the key areas of the Horizontal Facility such as the reform of justice, the protection of human rights, prison and police reform, the fight against economic crime, and the fight against discrimination and inclusive education./ibna