Contemporary Southeastern Europe
Rule of Law Through Judicial Reform: A Key to the EU Accession of the Western Balkans
This paper focuses on the importance of judiciary reform as a key segment of rule of law enforcement for the EU accession of Western Balkan countries as a process mainly driven by EU assistance. The Western Balkan (WB) countries, namely Albania, Bosnia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia are considered 'potential candidates' for European Union (EU) membership. In the EU accession process of these countries, strengthening the rule of law is considered to be of vital importance. Although the concept of the rule of law is much broader, when it comes to the rule of law requirement, judiciary reform represents the most significant component for reform in the EU accession of Western Balkan countries. Judiciary reform is so crucial to the rule of law reform that it is at times interchangeably used as having the same meaning. This is not a result of the lack of knowledge and ability to make the distinction between the two, but due to the practical importance that the judiciary plays in the rule of law. Due to the limited resources of the Western Balkan countries as well as due to the significance of the assistance, judiciary reform has primarily been driven by EU Assistance.