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Closing Conference of the regional project Countering Serious Crime in the Western Balkans held in Rome

The regional project Countering Serious Crime in the Western Balkans (CSCWB) held its closing conference on Tuesday, the 30th of May 2023 at the Museum of Civilizations (Museo delle Civiltà) in Rome, Italy. The conference was hosted by the Italian Ministry of Interior and attended by representatives of the European Commission, the beneficiaries, and other international partners.

The CSCWB project, co-funded by the European Union and implemented by a consortium consisting of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), the Italian Ministry of Interior – Criminal Police Central Directorate (DCPC) and the Dutch Centre for International Legal Cooperation (CILC), aimed at strengthening regional cooperation and capacities in the fight against serious and organised crime in the Western Balkans. The project supported the implementation of the Integrative Internal Security Governance (IISG) mechanism and the operational actions under the EU Policy Cycle/EMPACT priorities.

The conference showcased the main achievements and results of the project, such as:

  • The establishment of a regional network of analysts and prosecutors to enhance intelligence-led policing and joint investigations.
  • The development of a regional threat assessment on high-risk criminal networks and high-value targets operating in the Western Balkans.
  • The provision of tailor-made trainings and equipment to improve the operational and technical skills of law enforcement authorities.
  • The facilitation of information exchange and coordination among national and international stakeholders through regular meetings and workshops.

The Italian Deputy Chief of Police – Criminal Police Central Director Mr. Vittorio Rizzi, praised the project for its contribution to regional security and stability. He said: “The CSC WB project has been a valuable partner for Italy and the EU in strengthening our cooperation with the Western Balkan countries. Together, we have made significant progress in tackling serious and organised crime, which poses a common threat to our citizens and societies.”

The Programme Manager of the European Commission (DG NEAR) Ms. Olivia Debaveye thanked the project team and the beneficiary countries for their commitment and efforts. She said: “The CSCWB project has delivered remarkable results in enhancing regional cooperation and capacities in the fight against serious and organised crime. The EU remains a strong supporter of the Western Balkan countries in their path towards EU integration and alignment with EU standards and best practices.”

The Directors of Police and Chief Prosecutors, or their representatives, from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo*, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia, as well as representatives from the Project’s international partners also participated in the conference and shared their experiences and lessons learned from the project. They praised highly the support they received from the project and highlighted the crucial role played by the Embedded Country Teams (ECTs). They unanimously expressed hope that future projects will mimic the approach taken by the CSC WB project.

The CSCWB project was launched in January 2020 and will end in June 2023. In order to leverage the lessons learnt, the existing Consortium, strengthened by the support of new partners from the EU, will conduct a new project called “EU Support to the Prevention and Combatting of Migrant Smuggling and Trafficking in Human Beings in the Western Balkans”, starting in the current year.

*This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244/1999 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence.