The Impact of covid-19 Measures on the Rule of Law in the Western Balkans and the Increase of Authoritarianism

In: European Journal of Comparative Law and Governance
Andi Hoxhaj The Warwick School of Law, University of Warwick, Coventry, United Kingdom,

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Fabian Zhilla The Albanian Canadian Institute of Technology, Tirana, Albania, and the Global Initiative against Transnational Organized Crime, Vienna, Austria,

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This article offers a comparative analysis of the covid-19 legal measures and model of governance adopted in the Western Balkans countries (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Kosovo) and its impact on the state of the rule of law, and ability of parliament and civil society to scrutinise government decisions. The article assesses the governments’ approaches to introducing and enforcing covid-19 legal measures, and shows examples of how covid-19 has exposed more openly the weaknesses in the existing system of checks and balances in the Western Balkans. The article offers new insights into how covid-19 presented a new opportunity for leaders in the Western Balkans to implement further their authoritarian model of governance in undermining the rule of law. This article offers suggestions on how the EU could respond, through its accession conditionality instruments and civil society, to redirect this trend towards more state capture.

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