The Local Civil Society PAR Enabling Small Grant Facility (SGF) of the WeBER 2.0 Project will be implemented in the period January 2021 – January 2022. A total sum of 225.000 EUR will be allocated to support up to 30 grants. The answers to all questions raised by the potential applicants are published below. The integral Q&A list is available in English as well as in local languages.
Information sessions about WeBER 2.0 Local Civil Society PAR Enabling Small Grant Facility (SGF) were held in all countries of the Western Balkans (WB) in the last week of September.
The overall goal of SFG is to strengthen the engagement of grassroots and other local civil society organisations (CSOs) in local public administration reform (PAR), thus further building bottom-up demand and brining PAR closer to the citizens of the region. Moreover, SGF aims to provide support for CSOs that are active in monitoring and evaluating PAR in WB and encourage them to engage citizens in PAR, advocate for PAR locally and establish a dialogue on PAR with local authorities.
The info sessions were attended by a variety of local and grassroot CSOs of the region who had a chance to ask questions and seek clarifications related to SGF. All questions received during the info sessions in all six countries, as well as through email, will be integrated and answered. The Clarifications List will be published on the WeBER 2.0 website by 15 October 2020.
In case you missed it, you can find a video recording of the info session held in your country by following this link.
Welcome to the first episode of the WeBER podcast series of European Talks podcast, a new communication tool in the regional WeBER initiative context. Each podcast episode will be devised around a relevant public administration reform and civil society related topic in the region. With this series, we mainly target civil society, experts, government officials and external interested audience (rather than public). Highly conversational in nature, it is available in video format.
In the first episode, our guest is Gregor Virant, Head of SIGMA (Support for Improvement in Governance and Management) is a joint initiative of the OECD and the European Union and former Minister of Public Administration of Slovenia. Milena Lazarević, an expert on this topic, of the European Policy Centre – CEP Programme Director and WeBER initiative Team Leader, talked with him about the SIGMA principles of public administration, the WeBER initiative and why civil society must monitor and involve in the public administration reform process.
European Talks podcast is a short form conversation that aims to untangle difficult questions on various topics related to Serbia’s relations with the EU and its member states, by talking to experts, diplomats, and other relevant actors. Whether you are a researcher, a politician, or just genuinely curious about the topic, European Talks podcast will provide you with valuable ideas, answers as well as new questions. The producer is the European Policy Centre – CEP, a non-governmental, non-profit, independent think tank based in Belgrade. CEP is the coordinator of the WeBER initiative.
WeBER 2.0 – Western Balkan Civil Society Empowerment for a Reformed Public Administration is seeking project proposals for the implementation of the Local Civil Society PAR Enabling Small Grant Facility (SGF) for support to civil society monitoring of public administration reform at the local level. Find more information here.
Please find below information about the info sessions that will be held for interested applicants.
Please announce your participation at the info session by contacting the country representative as indicated in the table below.
Organiser of the info session
|Serbia||European Policy Centre – CEP||24 September 2020||11.00||Jovana Knezevic email@example.com|
|Albania||Institute for Democracy and Mediation – IDM||25 September 2020||11.00||Iliada Korcari firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Kosovo||Group for Legal and Political Studies – GLPS||24 September 2020||10.00||Ema Pula email@example.com|
|Montenegro||Institute Alternative – IA||24 September 2020||11.00||Dragana Jacimovic firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||Foreign Policy Initiative BH – FPI BH||25 September 2020||11.00||Mahir Sijamija email@example.com|
|North Macedonia||European Policy Institute – EPI||28 September 2020||12.30||Vaska Ristovska firstname.lastname@example.org|
Results from the public perception survey on service delivery suggest that governments in the Western Balkans are striving towards digitalisation and citizen-oriented services. This year’s surveys show that all of the countries in the region are either making progress or remain at the level of the first PAR Monitor 2017/2018.
Public perception points to a more citizen-oriented service delivery
Compared to the results of the previous PAR Monitor, Serbia and Albania record the most noticeable changes with regards to citizens’ perceived simplicity of dealing with public administration (Graph 1). In other words, there were respectively 23 and 18 percentage point increases in these two countries, followed by Montenegro at 14 percentage points.
Survey also show that roughly two thirds of citizens in the region feel that governments are moving towards digitalisation (69%). Apart from Bosnia and Herzegovina, where slightly below 50% of citizens perceive this trend, in all the other countries of the region, between 66 and 81% of citizens surveyed feel this way. At the regional level, citizens noted positive improvement in the time needed to obtain administrative services. This was especially so in Serbia, Albania, and Montenegro, where more than 60% citizens confirmed it has decreased.
It is also worth noting that 58% of citizens in the region claim to recognise governments’ efforts to simplify administrative procedures – more than in the previous PAR Monitor. As before, public administration in Kosovo takes first place according to perceptions, followed by Serbia.
The availability of e-services: more awareness, same levels of usage
The public is increasingly aware of e-services across the Western Balkan countries. Unlike the previous PAR Monitor, no country records below 50% of awareness, with as high as 74% of citizens in Albania (Graph 2). On the flip side, we find that a lot of citizens still do not use these services – a third of citizens in the region stated they had never used them. Additionally, with less than a third of citizens using them either rarely or just sometimes, many used them only occasionally. Notably, only 10% of citizens have used e-services often.
At the same time, surveys show that most citizens in every country (between 70 and 80%) report that e-services are easy to use. This resembles the results of PAR Monitor 2017/2018, in which approximately 80% of citizens surveyed in all countries included reported the ease of use of these services.
Bearing in mind the high awareness figures, a lack of information on e-services is unlikely to account for the low-level usage. More than two thirds of citizens who used e-services, more or less frequently, had little or no difficulties finalising services they requested. Nonetheless, in terms of public perceptions, there has been tangible improvement in citizen-oriented service delivery in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, and Serbia. On the other hand, the situation in Kosovo and North Macedonia has mostly remained unchanged.
 As in the 2017/2018 PAR Monitor, public perception of the awareness of and usefulness of feedback mechanisms, and their availability to citizens, is measured with public perception surveys that were implemented in each of the Western Balkan countries in the same manner. Surveys were implemented in the period from 5 to 30 May 2020.
The fifth meeting of the WeBER National Working Group (NWG) of Albania for Public Administration Reform (PAR) was organized online on Wednesday, July 22nd 2020, by the Institute for Democracy and Mediation, Tirana, via Zoom.
Organisers announced the WeBER 2.0 small grant facility scheme for civil society organizations to be launched in September, followed by a presentation on the methodology and case studies of citizen’s consultations as applied in the European Union. After sharing their experience and challenges related to the application of public consultations’ methods, NWG participants were invited to discuss PAR priorities for Albania. To this end, they were introduced to the Loomio discussion platform, which will facilitate communication among WeBER2.0 NWG members on the Public Administration Reform, both nationally and regionally.
Brand-new public perception survey results indicate fewer citizen-friendly options for providing opinions on administrative services, compared to PAR Monitor 2017/2018. At the same time, public opinion regarding the involvement of citizens and civil society in monitoring services is clearly growing. When it comes to the availability of information on citizen feedback, websites of service providers are no better than before. Such information on received feedback is mostly absent from their online portals, even in its most basic form.
The public views feedback channels as harder to use but stronger effects of external monitoring of service delivery
Perception surveys indicate that around half of the Western Balkan population sees possibilities to give opinions on the quality of services. This perception grew for almost 20% since the PAR Monitor 2017/2018. On the country level, roughly a third of citizens in Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina believe this is the case while in all the others, it reaches more than 50% of population.
In terms of the citizen-friendliness however, things appear to have gotten worse. A striking example is Albania, with 42% less of those surveyed noting that feedback channels are easy to use. In four of the countries, this decline is 30 percentage points or more.
More citizens in the region feel they are involved, together with civil society, in monitoring service delivery by administrations (42% as opposed to 26% previously). This has also led to a growing perception that such involvement has in fact improved service delivery. The difference can go as high as 20 percentage points, as in the cases of Kosovo and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Service providers remain reluctant to divulge details on feedback from citizens
There is a general lack of transparency of the information shared by citizens as feedback. Like the baseline PAR Monitor, administrations share almost no such information regarding five common administrative services. These include property, business, vehicle registration, obtaining personal documents, and VAT declaration and payment.
Still, some have just started publishing information in some areas – in Albania, for vehicle registration, and in Serbia, there is some basic data on the numbers of received and resolved complaints regarding registering businesses.
Overall, without transparency on feedback and how it is being used, citizen-oriented service delivery is hardly imaginable. Providing details on how users feel about services should become business as usual, but is, instead, lacking for the second monitoring cycle in a row. Overall, the PAR Monitor 2019/2020 has shown few major changes, and a certain level of backsliding in two countries.
 As in PAR Monitor 2017/2018, public perceptions on awareness of and usefulness of feedback mechanisms, and availability of feedback information to citizens, are measured through public perception surveys implemented in each of the Western Balkan countries in the same manner. Surveys were implemented in the period from the 5 to 30 May 2020.
The Group for Legal and Political Studies (GLPS) from Pristina held a National Working Group Meeting on 24 July 2020 over Zoom. This NWG meeting was the first one of the WeBER 2.0 project.
The agenda of the meeting was divided in two parts: 1. European Citizens Consultations: An introduction and presentation of the method, and 2. Discussion on PAR priority topics. The agenda also consisted of announcing the WeBER 2.0 Small Grant Facility programme and a discussion about further steps.
European Citizens Consultations: An introduction and presentation of the method
The section about European Citizens Consultations (ECC) was presented by the researchers of the organisations Lirika Agusholli and Arber Fetahu, who participated in the Train of trainers (ToT workshop in May. Based on the presentation they introduced this method of consultations to the participants, discussing citizens’ engagement with the regulatory process, the principles and standards of consultations, and details about how the contributions of citizens will be taken into account.
Discussion on PAR priority topics
At the second part of the meeting, GLPS’s executive director Arberesha Loxha continued the discussion about PAR priority topics. This section aimed to prioritise the objective of sustainable, efficient, transparent, and accountable public institutions. The priorities brought up in this meeting begin with the restructuring of the government, for which a public discussion should be necessary on the problems that the ministries are facing, taking into account the fact that within 6 months there have been 2 government restructurings in Kosovo. Colleagues from INDEP and D+ along with GLPS considered that we should send our comments regarding the Law on the Government, which incorporates a set structure of the government, a law that was absent for years in Kosovo’s legal framework. Other priorities listed as PAR priority topics were the need for proactive approaches from institutions in publishing information that contributes to transparency and encourages civic participation on issues of interest, as well as requests for access to public documents as another instrument, as PAR priorities that our public institutions should have. The discussion continued on to list public consultation and institutional transparency regarding the spending of public money, and spending based on the needs of citizens. The depoliticisation of boards and the selection of board members directors based on relevant legislation and professional criteria was another topic that was listed as a priority of PAR. Another priority should be developments in the legal package; legal acts (such as the Law on Salaries and the Law on Public Servants) should be based on constitutional principles (the judgments of the Constitutional Court for these two laws). GLPS encouraged the participants to use Loomio in order to vote and comment on priority topics to be placed in the platform, as well as to add anything they consider relevant or significant.
After these two points of the agenda, we informed participants about the launch of the WeBER 2.0 Small Grant Facility, for which the call for proposals will open in September, with info sessions regarding the application to be held in September and October.
After the two points of the agenda, we informed the participants for WeBER 2.0 Small Grant Facility programme announcement, informing them that the call will open in September and during Septemeber and October we will have info sessions regarding the application.
Citizen consultations are an important part of the Small Grant Facility (SGF) programme, with grantees performing consultations with local citizens within their projects. This was explained at the beginning of the Fifth Meeting of the National PAR Working Group in North Macedonia held on 22 August 2020 over Zoom.
Julijana Karai from the EPI gave a presentation on European Citizens Consultations, while Angel Mojsovski presented the current research results and findings of the WEBER 2.0 Project.
Kristina Dimovska from the Ministry of Information Society and Administration presented the Draft-Annual Report on the Implementation of the AP from the PAR Strategy 2018-2022 and Vesna Bochvarska and Iskra Belcheva from the Center for Change Management talked about key PAR priority topics identified at the WeBER Platform meeting by core members in North Macedonia.
A Loomio discussion has been implemented by sharing proposals for voting for, and rating, key PAR priority topics by participants of the NWG in North Macedonia. The selected key PAR priorities will be part of the forthcoming call for proposals for the SGF.
On the Zoom platform, 22/7/2020 the fifth meeting of the National Working Group (NWG) for Public Administration Reform (PAR) in BiH was held. This was the first meeting of the working group in Bosnia and Herzegovina within the new WeBER2.0 project. At the meeting, Mahir Sijamija, VPI BH Project Officer, announced and presented the new program of small grants for civil society organizations. After that, Anida Šabanović, director of VPI BH and Haris Ćutahija, researcher of VPI BH, held a presentation on the topic “European consultations with citizens: introduction and presentation of methods”. The meeting ended with a discussion on the implementation and priorities of public administration reform in Bosnia and Herzegovina and on the status and activities of civil society organizations involved.
The event brought together representatives of civil society, as well as experts in the field of public administration reform.