About the Observatory
EUWEB Legal Observatory: Justice and Home Affairs directly builds on the experience of the “EUWEB Legal Observatory”, linked to the activities of the Jean Monnet Module “EU-Western Balkans Cooperation Justice and Home Affairs” (EUWEB).
The current setup of the observatory, however, does expand its area of research, in adjusting to the Jean Monnet Chair’s, “EUVALWEB”, needs.
The fields of investigation of the Observatory cover the following areas:
1. Cross-border security and asylum management
This field of investigation aims to foster knowledge and critical assessments of EU strategy towards the Western Balkans from both the enlargement and security perspectives, examining the political choices, the applied rules, the political and legal instruments adopted at the international, European, and national level to reinforce reform efforts and bring tangible progress.
EU accession is strictly connected to security, to the extent that it requires these countries to provide guarantees according to the EU-oriented reforms and project. It also consists of the analysis of the impact on the legal systems of each Western Balkan country according to an interdisciplinary approach that includes criminal law and criminal procedural law, constitutional law, European and international law.
In detail, it will foster knowledge concerning migration and border management issues within the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) framework, and European Union (EU) acquis communautaire Chapter 24 (Cooperation in the field of Justice and Home Affairs), providing with the practical tools and coordinated action amongst EU Member States, agencies, institutions, and Western Balkan countries to put in place a common and comprehensive approach to border management and fighting illegal migration. Migration control is a key-element in EU enlargement efforts in the Western Balkans, which remains an important transit area for irregular migrants moving towards Western Europe.
The field of investigation will also include joint training seminars for teaching staff, international and national experts, and representatives of the different categories of stakeholders to provide a general framework of the EU strategy towards the Western Balkans and specific measures on migration issues.
2. Transnational crimes
This field of investigation to foster knowledge and critical assessments concerning the Western Balkans as the origin of cross-border offences into the rest of Europe. Organised crime activities are mainly linked to illicit trafficking in arms, drugs, and humans.
The increasing involvement of strong organized crime groups in the Balkan region reflects an EU concern due to the importance of the region as a geopolitical and geo-economic hub between the EU, Turkey, the Middle East, and Russia. Further, as borders dissolve in Europe, the opportunity for various forms of exploitation increases, presenting new challenges. Similarly, the challenges of terrorism have been recognised as a priority issue in EU-Western Balkan relations. The topic gained prominence through the EU Global Strategy, and resulted in some determined steps at the policy level in the respective EU-Western Balkan forums. In this direction, the Joint Action Plan on Counter-Terrorism requires each Western Balkan country to align its legal counter-terrorism framework with the relevant legal instruments of the EU and international bodies. In fact, the EU’s latest enlargement strategy of February 2018 reinstated security and the rule of law as a conditio sine qua non in terms of a reinforced EU perspective for the region.
Therefore, such research and monitoring will concern the political choices, the applied rules, the political and legal instruments adopted at the international, European, and national level to reinforce reform efforts and bring tangible progress in this sector. They will also consist of the analysis of the impact on the legal systems of each Western Balkan country according to an interdisciplinary approach that includes criminal law and criminal procedural law, constitutional law, European and international law. Furthermore, they will focus on what obstacles might exist in the national legislation and practice of Western Balkan countries that might hinder or complicate the efficiency of international cooperation according to European standards. Thus, the approach will be problem-focused also in light of the evolution of EU Criminal Law.
3. Police and Judicial Cooperation
This field of investigation aims to foster knowledge and critical assessments concerning judicial and police cooperation with the Western Balkan countries to investigate and prosecute crimes in the region looking at the international, European, and national legislative framework.
At the EU-Western Balkan Summit of Sofia, the EU and Western Balkan partners agreed to enhance strategic and operational work in the field of police and judicial cooperation, in particular through the participation of the Western Balkans in the EU Policy Cycle 2018-2021, coordinated EU-wide cooperation against serious and organised crime. With the Commission’s support, the EU Justice and Home Affairs agencies, such as Europol or CEPOL, made the commitment to further engage in the Western Balkans to effectively link internal and external actions against all forms of cross-border crime.
In this context, the research aims to provide participants with all the mechanisms for the informal exchange of criminal intelligence and information, and the way in which police and prosecutors from different countries can work together, with specific reference to the development of joint investigation teams (JITs).
4. Promotion and Protection of EU Values and Fundamental Rights
This field of investigation aims to foster knowledge and critical assessments concerning the new dynamic phase of EU integration thanks to relaunching the EU Strategy towards Western Balkan countries that aims to further progress on the reforms that should benefit all citizens.
Building a democratic system plays a central role in meeting the conditions for EU accession, which refers to the stability of democratic institutions and the protection of fundamental rights and minority rights. Thus, the activity aims at increased monitoring and examining the impact of reforms under the rule of law, respect for fundamental rights and freedoms, including freedom of expression, independence of the media, the role of parliament, building democratic and independent institutions, de-politicization and professionalization of the public sector. It will also compare the current situation of the rule of law within EU Member States and the impact on the legal systems of each Western Balkan country according to an interdisciplinary approach that includes criminal law and criminal procedural law, constitutional law, European and international law.
Teresa Russo, University of Salerno (Italy)
Gaspare Dalia, University of Salerno (Italy)
Erjon Hitaj, University of Vlore “Ismail Qemali” (Albania)
Niuton Mulleti, EPOKA University of Tirana (Albania)
Ana Nikodinovska, University “Goce Delčev” of Štip (North Macedonia)
Anna Oriolo, University of Salerno (Italy)
Rossana Palladino, University of Salerno (Italy)
Stefano Busillo, University of Salerno (Italy)
Emanuele Vannata, University of Salerno (Italy)