Western Balkans Criminal Justice

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The European Union (EU) and the Western Balkans face common criminal threats, and cooperation between the EU and its neighbours is crucial to effectively combat cross-border organised crime. As candidates and potential candidates for EU membership, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo*, North Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia are key partners in building a safer Europe.

For the past two decades, Eurojust has provided operational support and assistance to EU Member States, with a particular focus on facilitating judicial cooperation. The Western Balkans Criminal Justice (WBCJ) Project was developed to extend this operational support to Western Balkan partners, even in cases where no EU country is directly involved.

The aim of the WBCJ Project is to strengthen cooperation within the Western Balkans and between the region and the European Union in the fight against organised crime and terrorism, using modern tools and instruments. Equipping Western Balkan partners with EU judicial cooperation tools and working methods - such as coordination meetings, coordination centres, and Joint Investigation Teams (JITs) - is essential for the successful outcome of cross-border investigations.

The project covers the following types of support:

  • Expertise and best practices from Eurojust and EU member states on how to use tools and instruments for judicial cooperation;
  • Direct funding for operational meetings (coordination meetings , coordination centres) and investigative activities among Western Balkan partners, both within and outside of JITs;
  • Provision of modern ICT equipment such as secure mobile phones and laptops;
  • Translation and interpretation services.


The WBCJ Project is funded by the European Commission’s Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA III) and covers the Western Balkans 6 (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo*, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia). It is implemented by Eurojust since 14 September 2022 for an initial duration of forty-eight months, through a contribution agreement of EUR 6,000,000. The overall objective is to strengthen the strategic and operational cooperation within the Western Balkan partners and between the region and the EU on fighting organised crime and terrorism, using modern judicial cooperation tools.

The Project pursues the following specific objectives:

  1. Increase the ability of Western Balkan authorities to use modern judicial cooperation tools for investigating and prosecuting serious and organised cross-border crime
  2. Strengthen the knowledge of the Western Balkan authorities of tools, instruments and best practices linked to judicial cooperation in the EU

To reach the above objectives, the Project is expected to deliver the following results:

  1. A Contact Group, comprised of representatives of the six Western Balkan partners, is established and meets regularly (R1);
  2. Western Balkan authorities are equipped with the necessary technical tools and financial means to coordinate parallel investigations (R2);
  3. Western Balkan authorities are equipped with the necessary technical tools and financial means to set up and carry out JITs among themselves and with an EU MS (R3);
  4. Increased participation of a larger number of Western Balkan authorities in Eurojust- supported cases (R4);
  5. Western Balkan authorities are equipped with the necessary capacities, capabilities and knowledge to share information on coordinating investigations and prosecutions (R5);
  6. Increased participation of Western Balkan partners in the practitioners’ networks and focus groups supported by Eurojust (R6).


The launching conference took place on 15 May 2023 at Eurojust premises, in The Hague. It marked the end of the inception phase and the official start of the project operational activities. The conference was attended by four Ministers of Justice, one Secretary of State, and four State Prosecutors from the Western Balkan partners, along with representatives from the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Justice and Consumers (DG JUST), the Directorate-General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations (DG NEAR) and the Swedish Presidency of the Council of the European Union. At this conference, the authorities of the six Western Balkan partners reaffirmed their full commitment to the project at the highest level. A press release was published on the Eurojust website and translated into the languages of the Western Balkan partners.

The project revolves around the Contact Group, which functions as a regional coordination mechanism for cross-border judicial cooperation in criminal matters. The Contact Group is composed of two representatives per each Western Balkan partner (prosecutors and/or police officials) appointed by their home authorities. The Contact Group meets regularly in various locations, either at Eurojust premises or in one of the Western Balkan partners.

There have been five meetings of the Contact Group since the project commenced. The first meeting took place in The Hague on 8 March 2023, followed by the second in The Hague on 15 May 2023, the third in Sarajevo on 5 July 2023, the fourth in Podgorica on 27 September 2023, and the fifth meeting was conducted online on 30 November 2023.

  • On 26 June 2023, upon a proposal of DG NEAR, the Project Team organised a Webinar on admissibility of evidence obtained from SKY ECC and Encrochat networks, in cooperation with the European Judicial Cybercrime Network (EJCN), gathering more than 300 participants.
  • The Regional Seminar on JITs in migrant smuggling cases took place in Sarajevo on 6 July 2023. This seminar was organised jointly with the JITs Network Secretariat and the Focus Group on Migrant Smuggling at Eurojust. It was the first event organised by the Project in the region and it was attended by more than 50 participants, including prosecutors and law enforcement officers from the six Western Balkans partners. The aim of the seminar was to introduce the JITs Network of National Experts and its Secretariat to practitioners from the Western Balkan region, as well as highlighting the benefits of joining the Focus Group on Migrant Smuggling. The seminar included a section on case studies, during which EU prosecutors presented and analysed successful JITs they signed with Western Balkan authorities.
  • On 28 September 2023, the Project organised a Regional Consultative Meeting on Outreach Strategies in Budva, Monetengro, which brought together Contact Group members and Eurojust Contact Points in the Western Balkans, to develop a promotional strategy of Eurojust and the Project in the region.
  • In the afternoon of 28 September, the Project organised a Seminar for Montenegrin practitioners in Budva, Montenegro, in cooperation with the European Judicial Network (EJN) and the JITs Network Secretariat. The Seminar was aimed at promoting the Eurojust toolkit and the WBCJ Project’s financial support among Montenegrin prosecutors, with a specific focus on the benefits of JITs.
  • On 25 October 2023, the Project Team in cooperation with the JITs Network Secretariat organised a training on JITs funding for the Albanian National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and Special Anti-Corruption Structure (SPAK). The training focused on the Eurojust JITs Funding Programme and the related reimbursement procedures.


Timeline of events 2023

Timeline of the Western Balkans criminal justice project

Tools for practitioners

  1. JIT model agreement translated into the Western Balkans languages
  2. Checklist for practitioners (JITs among Western Balkans partners)
  3. WBCJ Project Funding Request Form

The Western Balkans Criminal Justice project cooperates with the European Judicial Network (EJN) in developing content for Western Balkans judicial practitioners, in their respective languages.

News and publications





Enhancing Cross-Border Cooperation in Criminal Justice in the Western Balkans

Read the leaflet


Strengthening collaboration in the fight against migrant smuggling in Europe

Read the leaflet


Funding Joint Investigation Teams

Read the leaflet

* This designation is made without prejudice to positions on status and is in accordance with UNSCR 1244/ 1999 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo Declaration of Independence.