EU representatives and the Western Balkan partners discussed the rule of law, judicial reforms, enhancing judicial training and various initiatives and challenges in the field of digitalisation of justice. Minister Dikaučič stressed "the commitment of all the participants to strengthening the rule of law, in particular by continued efforts to ensure the independence, accountability, integrity, quality and efficiency of justice systems".
The EU-Western Balkans Ministerial Forum on Justice and Home Affairs took place on 1-3 December 2021 at Brdo pri Kranju. Minister of Justice Marjan Dikaučič and Minister of the Interior Aleš Hojs as representatives of the Slovenian Presidency of the Council of the EU, together with the European Commission, represented by European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson and European Commissioner for Justice Didier Reynders, met with their counterparts from the Western Balkans at the annual EU-Western Balkans Ministerial Forum on Justice and Home Affairs. The meeting was also attended by representatives of the incoming French and Czech Presidencies of the Council of the EU and the Vice-President of Eurojust. During the judicial part of the meeting, the participants discussed the rule of law, judicial reforms, enhancing judicial training and various initiatives and challenges in the field of digitalisation of justice.
The ministers reiterated the crucial importance of the rule of law for the implementation of reforms, including judicial reforms, and for ensuring good governance and respect for human rights. In this context, the Western Balkans partners outlined key achievements in the area of rule of law and judicial reform, as well as areas where further progress is needed. The European Commission presented the annual Rule of Law Report for the EU member states and a progress report on two projects to measure the performance of the justice systems of the Western Balkan partners.
The ministers stressed the importance of enhancing judicial training and the crucial role of the EU's support in this area. The Commission presented the objectives and the current state of implementation of the European judicial training strategy 2021-2024, which is an essential tool to ensure the effective application of EU law, to promote mutual trust among justice professionals in cross-border proceedings and to support the implementation of the EU's values and principles. The ministers highlighted the need for the better identification of needs and long-term training programmes, in particular by ensuring regular participation of all stakeholders in the justice sector, with a focus on strengthening national capacities for judicial training.
The Commission informed the participants about the upcoming conference on initial judicial training to be organised under the French Presidency on 22-23 February 2022 in Bordeaux and invited the Western Balkan partners to actively join the conference.
The EU and Western Balkans representatives highlighted the importance of digitalisation, which will facilitate access to justice, improve the overall efficiency of justice and ensure the resilience of judicial systems, while strengthening their integrity and accountability. The ministers also discussed the efforts and challenges of the digital transformation and presented the latest initiatives in this field, with Eurojust providing an encouraging example of cooperation. The Western Balkan partners have committed to further modernising their justice systems with available support from the EU.