SARAJEVO – The Rule of Law is at the core of the enlargement process and at the centre of the ongoing preparation of the European Commission Opinion on Bosnia and Herzegovina application for EU membership. In this context, the European Commission has launched today a new initiative to monitor the whole Rule of Law system in Bosnia and Herzegovina, from Law Enforcement Agencies to Courts.
This initiative shall focus on the monitoring and assessment of effective implementation of Rule of Law-reforms and increase the accountability of the Rule of Law-chain in BiH, in full respect of the independence of the judiciary.
The activities start in April and will last until end of November 2019. Mr. Reinhard Priebe, former Director at the EU Commission and a senior rule of law expert will lead this initiative and advise the Commission, BiH authorities and the public with his assessment and recommendations on the rule of law in BiH.
He is conducting this week a fact-finding mission with relevant representatives of BiH authorities and judicial institutions, including law enforcement at state, entities and Sarajevo Canton level. He will also meet representatives of EU Member States and international community as well as civil society. With the involvement of several experts, activities will focus on trial monitoring, implementation of past EU recommendations on the fight against serious crime and new peer reviews on law-enforcement agencies.
This Rule of Law initiative will lead to a countrywide ‘Convention on the Rule of Law’, in the autumn gathering institutions from all levels of governance, civil society and academia from throughout the country. Mr Priebe’s report and its recommendations shall then be presented and discussed in the context of the Justice, Freedom and Security Sub-Committee of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement at the end of 2019.
Priebe’s report in Macedonia
Along with diplomatic mediation between political actors in Macedonia, the EU gathered a group of independent experts, lead by a retired European Commission director Reinhard Priebe and tasked to identify systemic Rule of Law issues in the country. This endevour resulted in the so called Priebe report.
The Priebe Report could serve as a model for a new, complementary reporting mechanism, that goes beyond technical monitoring of alignment with EU acquis. An independent expert report supported by the European Commission could be an adequate response to the need, voiced in the Strategy for Western Balkans of 2018 and reaffirmed at the EU – Western Balkans Summit in Sofia.