Addressing reforms in rule of law, fundamental rights and good governance remains the most pressing issue for the Western Balkans and a great concern for the global community (European Commission, 2018).

Therefore, in order to strengthen regional security and reinforce judicial systems, GIZ (commissioned by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development) and the Italian Ministry of Interior signed a Delegation Agreement with the European Commission in December 2017. According to this agreement, GIZ and IMoI will implement the IPA/2017 Project ‘Countering Serious Crime in the Western Balkans’ along with the third implementing partner, Center for International Legal Cooperation, based in the Netherlands.

The Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA) is the means by which the EU supports reforms in the ‘enlargement countries’ with financial and technical help. IPA/2017 refers specifically to the 2017 budget of IPA II.

The EU has supported similar projects in the past such as ‘IPA 2014 International Cooperation in Criminal Justice: Prosecutors Network of the Western Balkans’ (together with Germany) and ‘IPA 2013 Fight against Organised Crime: International Cooperation in Criminal Justice’. Consequently, the current project is to be seen as a joint follow-up to the previous projects. In order to better coordinate reform activities of all foreign states and international organisations, the EU and Western Balkan region jointly decided to create a single coordination mechanism called Integrative Internal Security Governance (IISG). The Countering Serious Crime in the Western Balkans Project is a part of this framework.

The Action is relevant for the UN Agenda 2030. It contributes primarily to the progressive achievement of SDG Goal 16, “Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.