In the first lecture with lecturer Alba Brojka, our youth from the program “Policymaking and the Process of Albania’s EU Membership Negotiations” learned about the values of the union, since no country aiming for membership can achieve this goal without accepting and internalizing these values that constitute the “backbone” of this organization. In this next lecture, the focus was on the “Rule of Law” principle.
Alba is one of the most beloved lecturers of our winter school editions because, in addition to being professionally trained an the heart of the European Capital, Brussels – the seat of the EU, she knew how to speak the language of our youth from Lezhë, born and raised in certain challenging circumstances, limiting their potentials to take off, yet diligent and curious as only youth can be!
To define the “Rule of Law” in a coherent sense, we traveled back in time to the Middle Ages and reflected on the perceptions of the legislation of the time and how power was concentrated in one pair of hands, those of the Church, considered divine, and how the Church passed the power on to the Princes and Kings who reigned in luxury over impoverished and rightness people. Then, we moved on to the period of the Reformation where the Church and the Papacy were taken away the right to absolute power, indulgences and as supreme authority and then between the following historical periods when we understood that the people’s intellectual, civil and political right to be governed with justice and equality was recognized.
3 important names in the transition and consolidation of the “Rule of Law” notion:
Montesquieu (separation of powers theory)
Locke (all persons are endowed with natural rights to life, liberty, and property, and that rulers who fail to protect those rights may be removed from the people, by force if necessary).
Jean-Jacques Rousseau (preconception of the social contract as an agreement between the individual and the will of the group aimed at the common good and reflected in the laws of an ideal state).
To return to our times, we also analyzed 2 examples of how not only countries with fragile democracies and outside the EU can fail to build “Rule of Law” for their citizens, but also countries within the union; we then proceeded to mention the mechanisms of EU to hold member states accountable. These were the cases of Hungary and Poland with leaders who violated the elements and order of the Rule of Law.
Surely, we did illustrate abundantly and clearly, through very practical examples, how the willingness of a state to be fair and impartial in the treatment of its citizens is manifested in everyday life, starting from things like respecting the queue for waiting citizens to receive a service, spending public money with integrity in tenders, impartial and equal treatment of citizens despite connections at high levels of power, etc.
Finally, we focused on Chapters 23 and 24 of the Acquis of European Integration, the first chapters to open and the last to close; those related precisely to the Rule of Law, the non-negotiable terms of the European Union for Albania.