EU Support for Rule of Law in North Macedonia

About the Project

Research Topic & Roadmap

After holding the candidate status since 2005, North Macedonia’s path towards European Union membership has reached a significant juncture when the first Intergovernmental Conference on accession negotiations was held in July of 2022. Following this, along with key steps being taken by the Parliament of North Macedonia, conclusions were reached on the necessary proposals and the screening process of the EU acquis began. These developments highlight North Macedonia’s dedication to fulfilling the requirements and standards set by the EU in spite of many challenges as it strives to join the European Union.

As part of this accession process, on the subject of rule of law, the streamlining of existing laws, practices and future legislative decisions up to the current EU standards is critical. For this project, the primary objective is to strengthen the rule of law, with specific support being directed towards institutions that work in the field of justice and law enforcement, as well as those that fight against corruption and aim for promoting and protecting fundamental and human rights.

Beginning in May of 2023 and planned to continue until November of 2026, this project continues to build on the revised concept “Enhancing the accession process – A credible EU perspective for the Western Balkans” approved by the Commission in February 2020. Improving upon lessons learned from the discontinued project and now under the leadership of the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute of Fundamental and Human Rights (LBI-GMR), this project is implemented in partnership with the CILC (Center for International Legal Cooperation) Netherlands, the Ministry of the Interior of the Republic of Slovenia, and the Ministry of Justice and Public Administration of the Republic of Croatia. The project is run under the overall coordination of the Team Leader Dieter Schindlauer, based in Skopje for the duration of the project.

Research Focus & Research Method

The overall objective of the project is strengthening the rule of law in North Macedonia. The project is divided into four specific components, which have several interlinkages and comprise a large number of activities focussing on the following result areas:

1. Improving the capacities of justice institutions to deliver justice in transparent and accountable manner

Component 1 includes supporting the judicial sector in terms of advisory support, monitoring and management support in further development of Information Communication Technology (ICT). In order to enhance judicial reform strategies, processes in the civil, commercial and administrative justice will be strengthened. Particular attention will be paid to the capacities of the academy for judges and public prosecutors and to the analysis of specific challenges in ensuring access to justice for citizens.

2. Strengthening the capacities to effectively implement modern investigation techniques in fighting organised crime

Component 2 includes improving criminal investigation capacities within relevant sectors in compliance with fundamental rights and EU standards to enhance strategic analyses of the criminal environment and the risk analysis system. Special support will be given to the National Coordination Centre for organised crime control and its role as an effective coordinator among law enforcement bodies.

3. Improving the prevention and fight against corruption

Component 3 includes strategic support for ensuring the independence, effectiveness and efficiency in the operations of the State Commission for Prevention of Corruption (SCPC) and improving control and verification of assets declarations submitted by elected and appointed public officials and members of Parliament. The law on lobbying will be enforced and the restrictions on gifts improved. Furthermore, the component aims at improving transparency of financing of political parties and election campaigns as well as the prevention of corruption in public procurement.

4. Enhancing the protection of fundamental rights

Component 4 includes strengthening capacities within the main human rights bodies such as the Ombudsman Office, the Inter-Sectoral Commission for Human Rights at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Commission for Protection against Discrimination, and the National Commission on the Rights of the Child to enhance the protection of fundamental rights. Barbara Liegl of the LBI-GMR will steer the implementation of component 4 as component leader based in Skopje. Other experts of the LBI-GMR will contribute as short- and mid-term experts throughout the duration of the project. This component will address topics like the prevention of gender-based violence and discrimination, strengthening children’s rights and the child protection system and raising awareness on the importance and role of human rights bodies and institutions. The project will also work towards enhancing respect for human rights in the judicial and home affairs system and probation system and to promote alternative means of detention.

To the Project Website

Project Data