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Albania, an EU accession candidate since 2014, carried out comprehensive judicial reforms over the past years. The constitutional amendment of 2016 gave the citizens the right to file individual complaints directly with the Constitutional Court. To make the public aware of this law and thus also to improve the human rights situation in the Balkan state, the IRZ organised a first seminar in July 2018 with the Albanian Bar Association in Tirana. The second seminar followed on 25 and 26 October.
During the seminar, the participants, about 30 lawyers, were trained in particular with regard to procedural provisions and the drafting of constitutional complaints, the admissibility criteria and the current case law of the European Court of Human Rights
“No plaintiff, no judge”: As no constitutional complaint had been submitted yet when the seminar took place, Professor Dr. Bergmann encouraged the lawyers to file suitable cases with the Constitutional Court in order to continuously advance the legal system of Albania. He recommended to base their complaints not only on the Albanian constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights, but also to quote the Charter of the European Union in view of a future EU membership.
The IRZ and the Albanian Bar Association are planning to organise follow-up events outside Tirana to raise the awareness of more Albanian lawyers for this topic.
Albania has introduced comprehensive reforms to its legal system in recent years. These include changes to the constitutional complaints procedure, which since 2016 has enabled citizens to lodge constitutional complaints against laws and to appeal directly to the constitutional court in the event of individual complaints. Albania has closely followed the German model in this respect.
In this context, the IRZ has worked over the past year with the expert employee of the Constitutional Court, Dr. Arta Vorpsi, and the President of the Senate at the Administrative Court of Baden-Württemberg, Professor Dr. Jan Bergmann, to develop a handbook on constitutional complaints, which explains the process from the Albanian and German perspectives. Over the past year, the IRZ has been able to present this handbook to a wider public and distribute it to the courts.
On 17 July 2018, the first joint seminar was held in Tirana with the Albanian Bar Association on the subject of constitutional complaints. The objective of the seminar was to familiarise Albanian lawyers with the new procedures for constitutional complaints.
During the Albanian-German seminar, which was led by Dr. Arta Vorpsi and Stefan von Raumer, a lawyer from Berlin and the President of the Parliamentary Committee for the German Bar Association, the 30 or so participants learned more about the basics of the new system for constitutional complaints in Albania and the conditions of accessibility.
The inclusion of real practical cases from Albania and Germany led to animated discussions between the participants and the speakers.
Since this subject is highly topical, the IRZ is planning to hold further seminars with lawyers, potentially also in regions of Albania, so that even more Albanian lawyers can be reached in this way.
On 13 June 2018 the EC-funded Project EURALIUIS V kicked off in the “Europahouse” of the EU Delegation in the capital of Albania, Tirana. Participants were Mr Christian Lange, State Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection, Ms Etilda Gjonaj, Minister of Justice, Ms Romana Vlahutin, Ambassador of the EU Delegation to Albania, as well as all Member States Ambassadors and representatives of the Albanian Judiciary.
In March 2018 IRZ successfully concluded the predecessor project EURALIUS IV and fortunately the tender procedure for EURALIUS V turned out to be successful so that EURALIUS V was awarded to the IRZ-lead consortium. Consequently, since 1 April 2018 IRZ is continuing its work in Albania as regard the justice reform, which is ongoing since Autumn 2014. The total contract value of EURALIUS V is EUR 7,5 Mill., the duration is 36 months. A team of around 40 staff and experts is budgeted of which most team members could be already contacted. IRZ very much appreciates to be able to continue a very well-established cooperation with Dr. Agnes Bernhard as Team Leader, who hold this very position also under EURALIUS IV.
Consortium partners - apart from those who were already partners in the predecessor Project EURALIUS IV – are namely the “Centre for International Legal Cooperation” (CILC/NL), the “Agency for Economic Development” (AED/A) and as new member the „Consiglio Superiore della Magistratura“ (CSM) from Italy.
EURALIUS V is tasked to further support the overall consolidation of the ongoing justice reform. With regard to the establishment of the new justice institutions, which resulted based on the new constitution and the subsequently thereafter adopted relevant legislative packages, the initial time plan could so far not be implemented due to diverse reasons. Thus, the start date of EURALIUS V comes at a very sensitive phase as the establishment of new justice institutions and the continuing of the implementation of the justice reform is predetermined to a major extend by the ongoing vetting procedures. It is also to be expected, that the decision about the potential opening of the EU-accession talks with Albania to be decided on the occasion of the EU Summit to take place on 28/29 June 2018 is going to have a major impact on the overall justice reform efforts as well as on the pace of the reform. With a highly motivated team under excellent leadership IRZ will further contribute valuable support to the highly challenging but interesting justice reform in Albania, which is being regarded as historic.