What is the Horizontal Facility?
The European Union/Council of Europe “Horizontal Facility for the Western Balkans and Türkiye” (Horizontal Facility III) is a co-operation initiative and one of the results of the Statement of Intent signed on 1 April 2014 by the Secretary General of the Council of Europe and the European Union Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy, in which both Organisations agreed to further strengthen their co-operation in key areas of joint interest.
The programme is ongoing since 2016 and the third phase begun in January 2023. The third phase of the programme (worth €41 million between 2023 and 2026) keeps building on the results of the previous phases.
The third phase of the programme covers actions in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo*, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia as well as Türkiye, with the regional dimension included. The Expertise Co-ordination Mechanism that provides legislative expertise and policy advice within the Council of Europe system remains an important part of the programme available to all Beneficiaries.
How long will the Horizontal Facility III last?
The Horizontal Facility III is a programme which is being implemented by the Council of Europe from January 2023 over a period of 48 months.
How much will the Horizontal Facility III cost?
The envelope of this facility amounts to ca. 41 million EUR (85% funded by the EU, 15% by the CoE).
What will the Horizontal Facility III do?
The Horizontal Facility enables the Beneficiaries to meet their reform agendas in the fields of human rights, rule of law and democracy and to comply with European standards, which is also a priority for the EU enlargement process. The Horizontal Facility relies on the Council of Europe’s unique working methods, whereby tailor-made technical co-operation activities are based on conclusions and recommendations of the Council of Europe’s monitoring bodies highlight areas where improvements are needed in legislation and policies of the Beneficiaries to comply with the Organisation’s treaties and other standards.
Themes covered by the Horizontal Facility include:
- strengthening justice
- fighting corruption, economic crime and money laundering
- promoting anti-discrimination and protection of the rights of vulnerable groups (including LGBTI, minorities and Roma) and
- promoting and protecting freedom of expression and media
All the themes are key priorities of the two Organisations in the Western Balkans region and in Türkiye.
All Horizontal Facility actions address cross-cutting issues such as gender mainstreaming, protection of minorities and vulnerable groups and foresees the engagement of civil society organisations in the implementation of the Horizontal Facility.
How does the Horizontal Facility III work?
Actions undertaken in the Horizontal Facility Beneficiaries were designed based on recommendations emanating from Council of Europe monitoring and opinion/advisory bodies, and prioritised according to the needs within the enlargement negotiations of the European Union.
The Horizontal Facility follows a two-fold approach, including technical assistance and legal/policy advice:
- Technical assistance under the Horizontal Facility is based on the Council of Europe (CoE) “triangle” of standard setting, monitoring and co-operation which represents the Council of Europe’s strongest comparative advantage. Hence, actions being implemented are addressing shortcomings identified by CoE monitoring/expert bodies on ensuring justice, fighting economic crime, combating discrimination and promoting and protecting freedom of expression and freedom of the media with a view to supporting Horizontal Facility Beneficiaries in meeting increasing compliance with European standards. In addition, the actions implemented aim at facilitating pre-accession beneficiaries’ progress regarding the implementation of Chapters 23 and 24, where relevant. This is being done through a variety of activities such as training seminars, assessments (for example of the implementation of certain pieces of legislation or policy documents, institutional arrangements, operational capacities of certain institutions), support to the drafting of new legislative provisions / policy documents / methodologies, guidelines / handbooks (etc.) and exchanges of good practices.
- The Expertise Co-ordination Mechanism provides expertise within the Council of Europe system to respond to requests for legislative expertise and policy advice on ensuring justice, fighting economic crime and combating discrimination, as well as freedom of expression and the media, and constitutional issues falling within the mandate of the European Commission for Democracy through Law (known as the Venice Commission). This is done in full respect of the independence and functioning specificities of the Council of Europe monitoring mechanisms and provides a key support to accession processes to the EU.
Who co-ordinates the Horizontal Facility III?
A co-ordination mechanism between the Council of Europe, European Union, Council of Europe Field Offices, European Union Delegations/European Union Office and the so-called Horizontal Facility Beneficiary Co-ordinators (officials of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs or European Integration appointed by the authorities of the beneficiaries concerned to act as focal points for the implementation of the Horizontal Facility) has been established to ensure inclusive and comprehensive co-ordination between the Council of Europe, the European Union, the stakeholders and partners in the jurisdictions concerned as well as with other international organisations.
This co-ordination mechanism ensures synergies with other existing and planned actions in the region and will ensure tangible and sustainable results of the Horizontal Facility for the final beneficiaries and the people of the Western Balkans and of Türkiye.
*This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo Declaration of Independence.