From: Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei
Senior European Commission Expert: Vetting Process Needs to Be Closed ‘in Next Two Years,’ Constitutional and High Court ‘Very Soon’

During a closed event today at the House of Europe in The Hague, titled “Rule of law challenges and prospects in Albania and North Macedonia,” organized by the Asser Institute in collaboration with the Dutch Albanian Foundation, Senior Expert of the DG NEAR of the European Commission, Marc Jorna, stated that

in terms of the justice system functioning in serenity we need to get this [vetting] process in the next two years closed.

He added that “as I understand it, in the very near future there will be a quorum for the Constitutional Court and the same goes for the [High] Court,” without specifying a possible timeframe. Jorna’s estimate of two years is supposedly based on EURALIUS’s schedule, which envisions the vetting to have finished in 2021. At the current pace, the vetting institutions will actually need another eight years.

Jorna further admitted after questions of Exit that constitutional deadlines in the Justice Reform had been violated, but

that if it takes a bit more time, so be it. The end result is more important than sticking exactly to the deadlines. Our assessment there is and remains for the time being a very positive one.

Jorna refused to reflect on a question by Exit concerning the many cases in which the Justice Reform implementation has been problematic, and what lessons can be learned for the future.

High Prosecutorial Council (KLP) Chairman Gent Ibrahimi was more cautious in his statements. When asked by former OSCE ambassador to Albania Robert Bosch, who described the event as an attempt to lobby Dutch Parliament to support opening EU accession negotiations with Albania, when the Constitutional Court will be established, Ibrahimi declared that “we have to do it the right way. There is an order at which Constitutional judges are appointed. The absence of the High Court makes this process very difficult.”

Ibrahimi also addressed the problems that the high rate at which magistrates are dismissed by the vetting commissions will cause to the judiciary, which he described a “medium-term challenge” for Albania in its attempt to reestablish the judiciary at full capacity. He proposed two solutions to the lack of qualified magistrates, namely increasing the output of the School of Magistrates and streamlining the Procedural Code, such that court cases will take less time.