The EU–Western Balkans Ministerial Forum on Justice and Home Affairs will take place in Skopje, North Macedonia, on 18–19 November 2019. Minister of Justice Anna-Maja Henriksson will chair the justice affairs session. Minister of the Interior Maria Ohisalo will chair the home affairs session.
At this year’s forum, the ministers will hear how the Western Balkans have progressed in the development of the rule of law and fight against corruption. The aim is to reaffirm the political commitment to continue rule of law reforms, and to discuss how to increase cooperation with the EU in several areas of judiciary.
The ministers of justice will discuss the effective implementation of judicial reforms in the Western Balkans region. Also on the agenda are prison conditions and use of alternative sanctions, and the implementation of recommendations on electoral practices.
The home affairs ministers will discuss the situations and needs of the partners of the Western Balkan migration route. The Western Balkans continue to face strong migratory pressures, as the region is one of the most common routes into the European Union. Other topics of the home affairs session include closer cooperation in border control and combating terrorism and organised crime.
During its Presidency of the Council of the EU, Finland wants to promote dialogue with the Western Balkans in the area of justice and home affairs. The themes of the forum are related to two of the objectives of the Finnish Presidency: strengthening the rule of law and shared values and promoting comprehensive security.
The Western Balkans is a region that includes Serbia, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Kosovo. With the exception of Kosovo, all of these states have applied to become a member of the European Union.
The EU has launched a Stabilisation and Association Process (SAP) with the Western Balkans with the aim of eventual EU membership, and has begun accession negotiations with Serbia and Montenegro. The opening and progress of accession negotiations depends in many respects on the development of the rule of law in the countries concerned.