Presentation of the EU Twinning project “Support to the Implementation of the Modernised Data Protection Legal Framework in North Macedonia”

On July 1st, Tuesday, an official online presentation of the Twinning project Support to the Implementation of the Modernised Data Protection Legal Framework MK 18 IPA JH 01 20 EuropeAid/170648/DD/ACT/MK was held during the online meeting of the project partners. The leading member state in the project is the Republic of Croatia, represented by the Croatian Personal Data Protection Agency which will be co-operating with the Central Finance and Contracting Agency (CFCA) and the German Foundation for International Legal Cooperation (IRZ), acting as the Junior project partner. The beneficiary institution is the Personal Data Protection Agency of the Republic of North Macedonia.

The budget of the project amounts to 700,000 EUR and it will be implemented within 15 months. The aim of the Twinning project is to further improve the implementation of personal data protection and the national personal data protection system in North Macedonia in line with the European acquis. The Project Leader is Mr Igor Vulje, deputy director of the Croatian Personal Data Protection Agency. The Junior Project Leader is Mr Lukas Gundermann, legal advisor with the Federal Ministry of Justice and for Consumer Protection.

During the presentation of the project, in his opening speech, the Director of the Croatian Personal Data Protection Agency, Mr Zdravko Vukic, thanked for the trust and opportunity to implement this Twinning project in North Macedonia.

“We understand the difficulties that you are facing on your way, because we were recently facing similar ones. Together with our experienced German colleagues, we can face these challenges successfully, and support you on your path towards the European Union. I would like to thank our partners in this project, the German Foundation for International Legal Cooperation (IRZ), the Croatian Central Finance and Contracting Agency and our German colleagues for the partnership in this project and we are looking forward to our successful cooperation. I am confident that this project, will provide a solid foundation for future work of the North Macedonian Personal Data Protection Agency and other relevant North Macedonian institutions in the area of data protection“, emphasized Mr Vukić.

The Director of the Personal Data Protection Agency of North Macedonia, Mr Imer Aliu, who is also the Project Leader of the beneficiary, thanked everyone for their support and stressed that the Twinning project starts at a crucial time for the Agency, as the process of harmonising other relevant acts with the new Law on Personal Data Protection ends in August.

“The Agency has been established 16 years ago and is constantly developing. This project is very important for strengthening the institutional capacity of the Agency. The Agency has an experienced and dedicated team that will cooperate with the colleagues and experts from Croatia and Germany, and the successful and fruitful cooperation will continue after the completion of the project”, Mr Aliu pointed out.

Training on “International legal aspects of the fight against corruption”

Graphics: IRZ
Graphics: IRZ
North Macedonia

On 22 April 2021, the “Pavel Shatev” Academy of Judges and Public Prosecutors and IRZ organised a joint online training session on “International legal aspects of the fight against corruption”. The event was aimed at judges and public prosecutors from North Macedonia.

The lectures were given by:

  • Senior Public Prosecutor Markus Busch, Head of Division II A 4 - Combating Economic, Computer, Corruption and Environmental Crime by means of Criminal Law, Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection, and Head of the German Delegation to GRECO (Group of States against Corruption), as well as
  • Senior Public Prosecutor Dr. Todor Vitlarov, a Senior Prosecutor from Stip and Chairman of the Association of Public Prosecutors of North Macedonia.

The organisers had chosen the bilateral approach for the training, as GRECO recommendations play an important role for both countries. The GRECO recommendations for North Macedonia were therefore the main focus of the training session. In addition, Markus Busch, who has many years of experience in implementing international anti-corruption regulations, gave deeper insights into GRECO's working methods.

Both speakers also addressed issues of integrity and anti-corruption within the judiciary, paying attention to ethics and the self-perception of public prosecutors, judges and other people working in the justice system. Both speakers clarified the practical relevance of their remarks with some illustrative examples.

Training in advance of amendments to the mediation law

Graphics: IRZ
Graphics: IRZ
North Macedonia

On 23 March 2021, the “Pavel Shatev” Academy of Judges and Public Prosecutors and IRZ organised their first joint online training session on “The stages and types of mediation”. The event was prompted by the upcoming amendments to the mediation law, which represent an important part of judicial reform. The target group was therefore made up of judges, as well as future and current mediators.

After the welcome speeches by Sonja Mojsovska from the Academy and Dr. Stefan Pürner representing IRZ, the following lectures took place:

  • Stevkova Nikolovska (Skopje): An introduction to mediation - present situation and future perspectives
  • Dr. Zoran Vuchev (Skopje): Mediation in labour, family and commercial disputes
  • Ingrid Hönlinger (Ludwigsburg): Mediation in Germany

During the lectures, it became clear that mediation in North Macedonia is not yet given the required level of priority. The amendments to the law along with training courses such as this one should help to achieve this. The common theme throughout all the lectures was that mediation enables the independent resolution of disputes, as well as saving costs.

Unlike in other judicial systems, mediation is permitted for family cases in North Macedonia only in the event of disputes over property, but not when it comes to rights of custody and access. Initiatives to try to change the provisions relating to this have not met with any success so far. From a German point of view, it is clear that the use of mediation for labour disputes is very widespread in North Macedonia and results in a settlement in over 90 percent of cases. During the discussions, it was revealed that the heavy use of mediation in this area is above all down to the high cost risk of settling labour disputes in court in North Macedonia.

IRZ expert Ingrid Hönlinger gave a lecture on the current situation in Germany for mediation, including the legal framework. A lawyer and certified mediator, she also presented the model for the five stages of mediation:

  1. Clarification of tasks
  2. Identification of issues
  3. Positions and interests / exploration of views and background
  4. Collection and assessment of possible solutions
  5. Concluding agreemen
As part of this presentation, she also gave plenty of practical tips on the soft skills required of mediators. The event was well-attended by almost forty participants, including the lawyer Dr. Veronika Horrer, who is Managing Director of the German Federal Bar Association (BRAK) and responsible for cooperation with IRZ, and who wanted to learn about the situation with regards to mediation in North Macedonia.