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European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations (DG NEAR)
News article27 February 2023Directorate-General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations

Meeting between Commissioner Várhelyi and Council of Europe Secretary General Pejčinović Burić marks the launch of the next phase of two joint flagship programmes

Cssr Várhelyi and Council of Europe Secretary General Pejčinović Burić

Today, Commissioner Olivér Várhelyi met the Council of Europe Secretary General (SG), Marija Pejčinović Burić in Brussels. They discussed aspects related to the cooperation between the European Union and the Council of Europe in the Enlargement and Neighbourhood regions, both on policy and programmes.

This meeting also marked the launch of the new phases of two of our joint flagship programmes, the Horizontal Facility for the Western Balkans and Türkiye (phase III) and the Partnership for Good Governance programme of the Eastern Partnership region (phase III). These two flagship programmes are worth over €60 million, with close to €50 million of this amount funded by the EU. The EU is committed to support its partners to reach their reform agendas in the fields of human rights, the rule of law and democracy.


Today’s meeting took place in the context of discussions the SG has ahead of the 4th Summit of Heads of State or government of the CoE, which will take place on 16-17 May 2023 in Reykjavik.

The joint European Union and Council of Europe programme, the “Horizontal Facility for the Western Balkans and Türkiye” (Horizontal Facility III) is a cooperation initiative for the period between 2022 and 2026. The programme covers actions in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo*, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia and Türkiye. The third phase of the Facility is worth €41 million (85% funded by the European Union, 15% by the Council of Europe). This programme enables the Beneficiaries to meet their reform agendas related to human rights, the rule of law and democracy and to comply with European standards and values as part of the Fundamentals in the framework of EU enlargement.

In the enlargement region the EU in cooperation with the Council of Europe has seven ongoing joint programmes, with more than €55 million EU contribution in total. This includes iPROCEEDS 2: Co-operation on Cybercrime which targets crime proceeds on the Internet and aims to secure electronic evidence and ROMACTED phase II, which promotes good governance and Roma empowerment at the local level. The Horizontal Facility also supports the Council of Europe’s Expert Coordination Mechanism, which funds some of the CoE’s Venice Commission opinions pertaining to the region.

The EU-Council of Europe Horizontal Facility was launched in 2016. Phase II of the Facility, which ended in December 2022, achieved significant results. To mention  a few examples, the EU supported  key judiciary reforms in Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Albania; drafted and implemented legislation enabling registration of civil partnerships in Montenegro, raise awareness on the availability of legal aid in North Macedonia (reaching more than 385.000 people on social media) or supported the “Block the hatred, share the love” campaign (reaching more than 800.000 users on social media in the period between January 2021 until December 2022). As of 1 January 2023, the third phase of the Facility is being implemented for a period of four years.

In the Eastern Partnership countries, the EU in cooperation with the Council of Europe aims at strengthening the rule of law. The Partnership for Good Governance (PGG) regional program provides country-specific support to align national legislation and practice with European standards and regional actions in three thematic areas: strengthening the rule of law and anti-corruption mechanisms, fostering the implementation of key judicial reforms, and combating discrimination and protecting the rights of vulnerable groups and women.

The €19,3 million third phase of the PGG, to which the EU is contributing €15 million, will build on the achievements of the two previous joint EU-Council of Europe Partnership for Good Governance Programmes (PGG I 2015-2018 and PGG II 2019-2023). The programme will continue to focus on justice reform, anti-corruption, anti-discrimination and gender equality, while taking into account the new geo-political realities of the region, from the EU perspective for three countries to the need to support democratic forces in Belarus. The demand-driven Quick Response Mechanism with the Venice Commission will also continue its work. The main partners in the programme are governmental bodies, government agents before the European Court of Human Rights, law enforcement authorities, civil society and academia.

The Partnership for Good Governance (PGG) phase III will start its implementation on 1 March 2023, with a duration of 48 months.