The "Consolidation of the Justice System in Albania" (EURALIUS) is a EU funded technical assistance project that seeks the strengthening of the Albanian justice system. The objective of EURALIUS is to strengthen the independence, transparency, efficiency, accountability and public trust in the Albanian justice system in line with the EU Acquis and best practices. EURALIUS is composed of long-term international experts from various EU Member States and of Albanian legal professionals who act as national experts, as well as support staff consisting of project assistants, translators, etc.
The transformation of the Albanian justice system toward EU standards is a condition and a process that aims to restore the people's confidence to the justice system, to the consolidation of the democracy and to the rule of law as required by the Stabilization and Association Agreement. The EU has devised specific instruments in order to facilitate the country accession and fulfillment of the conditions. Concerning the consolidation of the justice system in Albania EU funded the EURALIUS project.
Among the Albanian project partners and beneficiaries are the Ministry of Justice, the Judiciary (Courts), the High Council of Justice, the Prosecution Office, the Parliament of Albania, the Office for the Administration of the Judicial Budget, the School of Magistrates, the National Chamber of Advocacy and the National Chamber of Notaries.
Since Albania submitted its application for European Union membership, it had to meet the membership criteria and key priorities set out in the Commission's Opinion. One of the major requirements for the EU membership is Functioning of the Judiciary. Therefore, the Commission Report on Albania (2015) has stated that: "Albania's judicial system is at an early stage of preparation. Besides the perception of the public toward the justice system in Albania is very low.
To consolidate the justice in Albania and to strength the transparency, efficiency and the public trust in the Albanian justice system, the EU funded the EURALIUS project. Initially the project was operating under the Albania CARDS 2002 programme in the form of the EURALIUS I mission. Then, during the period 2007-2010 the project was undertaken by the EURALIUS II mission. The project contractor for the first two missions was the Austrian Federal Ministry of Justice and managed by Center of Legal Competence (CLC). The main objective remained to development of a more independent, neutral, effective, proficient, transparent and modern justice system in Albania, therefore contributing to the restoring of people's confidence in their institutions.
Euralius III started on 15 September 2010 and was finalized on 15 June 2013. This mission was managed by International and Ibero-American Foundation for Administration and Public Policies (FIIAPP) and had similar objectives as the previous missions. Meanwhile, the currently operated mission is EURALIUS IV, while the EURALIUS V mission is in the pipeline stage.
The current mission of the Consolidation of the Justice System in Albania project is EURALIUS IV. It started in September 2014 and is planned for a three years period (2014-2017). EURALIUS IV implementation was awarded to a consortium led by the German Deutsche Stiftung für Internationale Zusammenarbeit e.V. (IRZ), in cooperation with the Dutch Center for International Legal Cooperation (CILC) and the Austrian Agency for Economic Cooperation and Development (aed), which are all mandated bodies of respective Ministries of Justice. The main objective of the project is to assist the Albanian justice institutions to bring their enactment closer to the EU standards.
To achieve its objectives, the EURALIUS project is applying a methodology for capacity building activities. For this purpose are carried out these steps: problem analysis, gap assessment, strategy for gap bridging, legislative and institutional gap bridging. Additional activities are training, coaching and monitoring functioning in close cooperation with the key Albanian justice institutions and other international partners. The EURALIUS IV Team Leader is Dr. Agnes Bernhard.
The main aim of this component is to assist the Albanian authorities to design and implement a justice system strategy. Its vision is to guarantee independence, transparency and efficiency. Moreover, it intends to enhance the professionalism and accountability of the services of the Ministry of Justice and relevant subordinate authorities.
The activities envisaged under this component aim at supporting the High Council of Justice to ensure that decisions regarding the status and career of judges are based on objective, professional and transparent criteria that are in line with the EU standards. The support to the High Court aims at enhancing its independence, efficiency and effectiveness, to ensure that the court can fulfil its constitutional task and to provide guidance to all other Albanian courts by unifying the judicial practice.
The activities envisaged under this component aim at aligning the legislative framework in criminal matters including international cooperation to the EU and the Council of Europe standards, and supporting the reform of the criminal legal framework. It aims at enhancing efficiency, independence and accountability of the Albanian prosecution service, including the alignment to the best European standards. Furthermore, the activities of this component include providing trainings on the new amendments of the CPC and comments for the e-commentary on CPC and Juvenile Code.
This component is focused on improving transparency of court functioning and increasing the efficiency of the administrative staff in the justice system. It will also focus at improving case management, procedural codes and the use of technology at a country-wide level. The component aims - by improving the IT - at reducing the length of trials, of courts backlog and improve service delivery to justice users.
The main aim of the activities envisaged under this component is to strengthen the National Chamber of Advocacy, National Chamber of Notaries and the State Commission on Legal Aid, in particular through improving the legal framework, supporting disciplinary proceedings, codes of ethics and training programs for both lawyers and notaries, as well as through supporting civil society institutions providing legal aid.
This component is focused on assisting the competent commission to prepare and monitor the set up of the new institutions established by the reform and to facilitate the change management in institutions with amended tasks. It aims at supporting the establishment of the new institutions and functions, from managerial and organisational perspective (e.g. support in design of the organisational structure, map of processes, financial management, HRM (human resources management), capacity building of management and staff).
The main aim of this activity is assisting the HJI in building its capacities. It deals with monitoring and implementation of the new laws and contributes to the drafting of sub legal acts and standard operating procedures for inspection and investigation in disciplinary misconducts and disciplinary proceedings. The assigned expert monitors and contributes to specialized trainings on disciplinary matters according to the new legislation.
This activity is mainly involved in assisting courts during the transition period before establishing HJC and HPC developing working-plan in the transition period. Moreover, it is focused on ensuring also court organisation and their role according to the new legislation with regard to the court administration issues. Additionally, it focusses on the practical implementation and provides input for the drafting of needed sub legal acts, regulations or manuals.
The main objective of this activity is assisting the establishment of the new High Prosecutorial Council and assisting in specialized capacity building of members and staff of the Council. Moreover, it involves monitoring of the implementation of the new laws, the transfer of tasks from the General Prosecutor to the Council, and the elaboration of sublegal acts and standard operating procedures. In addition, it assists elaborating new templates on criminal proceedings according to the new amendments of the CPC.
The objective of this activity is mainly assisting the School of Magistrates in training the candidate magistrates, judges, prosecutors in particular on the legislation within the reform, as well as other training institutions for advocates and notaries. Additionally, it performs training for legal assistants, chancellors and other judicial civil servants, and assists the bodies who have taken over new responsibilities for the training of judicial civil servants.
EURALIUS has played an important role in the consolidation of the justice system in Albania, especially through the contribution of the EURALIUS IV mission in the setting up of the Justice Reform process. Throughout the reform, the international and national experts have assisted the process of drafting the Albanian legislation, amendments to the laws in the justice sector and supporting the set up and strengthening of Albanian institutions. A pivotal part of the Justice Reform process was the approval of the constitutional amendments by the Albanian Assembly on 21 July 2016, and of the legislative package of Organic Reform Laws, with the most important being the law Law on the Transitional Re-evaluation of Judges and Prosecutors of the Republic of Albania.