On 1 December 2017, the second meeting of the Horizontal Facility beneficiary co-ordinators was held in Podgorica. It was organised by the Council of Europe and the Delegation of the European Union to Montenegro, and hosted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Montenegro. Participants discussed the current implementation of the “Horizontal Facility for the Western Balkans and Turkey” in the six beneficiaries of the programme, indicating good practices and making recommendations for future improvements.
Mr Ivan Ivanisevic of the Montenegrin Ministry of Foreign Affairs opened the meeting, stressing the importance of the synergy of the European Union and the Council of Europe in the region. He underlined the relevance of the projects implemented within the Horizontal Facility, particularly emphasising the support for further regional cooperation. Head of the Co-operation Section at the EU Delegation to Montenegro, Mr Herman Spitz, highlighted the significance of strategic cooperation of the Council of Europe and the European Union, specifically in supporting the key reform processes and delivering concrete and tangible results in the partner countries, and most importantly in the EU’s enlargement and neighborhood regions: “Democracy, rule of law and fundamental rights are at the core of the ‘fundamentals first’ approach of the EU and it is only logical that this plays a critical role in the enlargement policy”.
Ms Pilar Morales, Head of Programming Department of the Office of the Directorate General of Programmes of the Council of Europe, underlined the innovative design of the Horizontal Facility, which combines recommendations of the monitoring mechanisms of the Council of Europe and the priorities of the European Union, particularly in the context of Chapters 23 and 24 of the EU enlargement process. Ms Morales also commended the support to the programme provided by the Horizontal Facility Beneficiary Coordinators, adding that “there is a clear commitment from the national stakeholders regarding the process of the Horizontal Facility, which is essential for its implementation”. Horizontal Facility Coordinator, Ms Ana Zec, provided the participants of the meeting with a brief overview of the Horizontal Facility coordination and set up, emphasising its two-fold approach: technical cooperation and the Expertise co-ordination mechanism, while updates on the first year and a half of the implementation of the Horizontal Facility were provided by Ms Eva Konecna and Ms Lilia Kolombet, Special Coordinators of the Council of Europe.
Representatives of key beneficiary institutions in the region participated in the meeting, including Mr Florim Canolli of the Ministry of European Integration (Pristina), Mr Igor Djundev of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Skopje), Ms Marija Oros Jankovic of the Ministry of European Integration (Belgrade), Ms Genola Velo of the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs (Tirana), Ms Jela Vuletic of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Podgorica) and Mr Kemal Muhic of the Embassy of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Podgorica.