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The 13th meeting of the National Working Group for Monitoring Public Administration Reform in Serbia

By |2023-12-25T10:37:58+01:0025/12/ 2023|News|

The 13th meeting of the National Working Group for Monitoring Public Administration Reform in Serbia was held, with the participation of 11 representatives from civil society organisations, the European Policy Centre, and representatives from the Ministry of Public Administration and Local Self-Government.

After the introductory remarks and brief introductions of all members, Milica Divljak, a Junior Researcher at the WeBER 3.0 project, presented the results of the national training needs assessment of the National Working Group members. These training sessions will be conducted as part of the WeBER Plus project during the second and third quarters of 2024. The results indicate that the majority of organisations whose representatives filled out the survey assess the overall experience of their organisations in PAR processes with a score of 3. According to the survey, organisations have the least experience in the field of Human Resources Management and the most in the area of Accountability. After presenting the survey results, a discussion followed in which members of the National Working Group shared their observations on the results, as well as their desires and needs for capacity building.

The presented results and collected comments will be used to develop a national training programme to enhance the capacities of organisations in the National Working Group to participate in monitoring the PAR processes.The second session of the meeting focused on discussing the prioritisation of key PAR issues in Serbia. The survey results and voted issues will be used to choose topics to be further explored in the first cycle of policy briefs next year. The topic that received the most votes is the Strategic Framework for PAR implementation (strategy and programmes) and the participation of civil society organisations in monitoring bodies. Following that, the topic that received the most votes is the ever-relevant Transparency in the process of planning and spending public funds, followed by the Inclusiveness of public policy development, which was extensively covered during the WeBER 2.0 project.

Another dialogue with civil society will be initiated during the next year to more precisely define the topics that will be further explored in policy briefs.The meeting concluded with a third session in which Milica Divljak first presented the research findings on the eConsultations portal, and then the participants discussed current issues regarding its usage, as well as potential areas for its improvement.

12th meeting of the regional WeBER Platform

2023-12-14T16:52:27+01:0007/12/ 2023|News|

The 12th meeting of the regional WeBER Platform: regional discussion on the training needs of WeBER Platform members and a discussion on the revision of the methodology for monitoring the mainstreaming of Public Administration principles into sectoral policies was held on 7 December.

The twelfth meeting of the WeBER Platform took place online with the participation of 29 representatives of the regional Platform members. This was the first meeting of the Platform within the WeBER 3.0 project, as well as the first meeting that included new members from the business community – NALED from Serbia and the Chamber of Commerce from North Macedonia.

After the opening remarks and brief introductions of all members, the junior researcher of the WeBER 3.0, Milica Divljak, presented the results of a self-assessment questionnaire on training needs that will be conducted within the WeBER Plus project during the second and third quarters of 2024. The results indicate that the majority of organisations are experienced or very experienced in monitoring public administration reform processes in their countries, especially in the areas of Accountability and Service Delivery. Following the presentation of the questionnaire results, a discussion followed in which WeBER Platform members expressed their desires and needs for capacity building. The presented results, together with collected comments, will be used to develop a training programme to enhance the capacity of the WeBER Platform members to participate in monitoring the public administration reform processes.

The second session of the meeting focused on a discussion of a revised methodology, specifically checklists for monitoring the mainstreaming of Public Administration principles into sectoral policies. The overall monitoring approach and the new checklists were presented by the Lead Researcher of the WeBER 3.0, Miloš Đinđić. “In comparison to the previous pilot research, we decided to simplify the monitoring approach within the WeBER 3.0. The checklist for monitoring Public Financial Management (Budget) will not be used during this research, while the selecting institutions to monitor the mainstreaming of public administration principles will replace the previous selection of sectors. Also, we will only monitor institutions that implement a sectoral policy, meaning institutions such as the Ministry of Finance or the Ministry responsible for public administration will not be the subject of this monitoring”, Đinđić concluded.

The meeting concluded with an open discussion about the issues and challenges faced by organisations that conducted monitoring in the previous cycle, as well as ways to proactively eliminate such issues. Finally, Project Manager Branko Birač briefed participants on the projected timeframe for monitoring implementation, as well as the technical details of the research.

Q&A on the Call for Proposals – Local PAR Citizen Engagement Small Grant Facility

2023-11-23T15:38:12+01:0023/11/ 2023|Announcements, News|

Western Balkan Enablers for Reforming Public Administrations – WeBER 3.0 project is a three-and-a-half-year-long regional project, worth 1.444.451 EUR, funded by the European Union, represented by the European Commission, and co-funded by the Austrian Development Agency. The project implementation period is February 2023 – July 2026.

A total sum of 280,000 EUR is allocated for the SGF, to support up to 20 grants, each worth up to 14,000 EUR, out of which 4 in Serbia, 4 in BIH, 3 in Albania, 3 in North Macedonia, 3 in Kosovo, and 3 in Montenegro. The duration of the awarded grants will be up to 15 months.

The overall goal of the Small Grant Facility (SGF) corresponds to specific objective 3 of the project: To strengthen engagement of grassroots and other local CSOs in local-level PAR and citizen engagement in PAR.

Below, you will find responses to frequently asked questions in the local languages of all six countries, along with English translations for your convenience.

Local PAR Citizen Engagement Small Grant Facility: ONLINE INFO SESSIONS

By |2023-10-13T17:08:45+02:0013/10/ 2023|Announcements, News|

Western Balkan Enablers for Reforming Public Administrations – WeBER 3.0 project is a three-and-a-half-year-long regional project, worth 1.444.451 EUR, funded by the European Union, represented by the European Commission, and co-funded by the Austrian Development Agency. The project implementation period is February 2023 – July 2026.

A total sum of 280,000 EUR is allocated for the SGF, to support up to 20 grants, each worth up to 14,000 EUR, out of which 4 in Serbia, 4 in BIH, 3 in Albania, 3 in North Macedonia, 3 in Kosovo, and 3 in Montenegro. The duration of the awarded grants will be up to 15 months.

The overall goal of the Small Grant Facility (SGF) corresponds to specific objective 3 of the project: To strengthen engagement of grassroot and other local CSOs in local-level PAR and citizen engagement in PAR.

Online info session for all interested applicants will be held via Zoom platform.

Albania: 18.10. 15h – 16:15h

Registration: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZ0vd-igrTgsGtaZXt7LcphY82AzV8ltxtef#/registration 

Bosnia and Herzegovina: 20.10. 12h – 13h

Registration: https://us05web.zoom.us/j/86963541397?pwd=zrZz4TqzmEvRKG0C3gZP6g271Q0YXb.1

Meeting ID: 869 6354 1397
Passcode: st1FQU

North Macedonia: 19.10. 11:30h

Registration: https://us06web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZcsfuCsqj0uGNPIsXEDM1a-rF3zAC4L9VAd#/registration

Montenegro: 17.10. 11h

Registration: https://us06web.zoom.us/j/81809012038?pwd=d73ISdaEbdVomJi7Ss9io4AeBys0nm.1

Meeting ID: 818 0901 2038
Passcode: 302257

Kosovo: 20.10. 10h – 11h

Registration: https://us06web.zoom.us/j/86286547464?pwd=mSNeserWOIK60XaIFKxEBn2gVnKNfX.1 

Meeting ID: 862 8654 7464
Passcode: 025339

Serbia:  20.10. 10h – 11h

Registration: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_Iem-AlnqRZCK63ZwYhD9Ew#/registration

Design thinking workshop in Vienna

By |2023-09-08T16:07:45+02:0008/09/ 2023|News|

Vienna, 3-4 July 2023 – Under the scope of the Western Balkan Enablers for Reforming Public Administrations – WeBER 3.0 project, a design thinking workshop in Vienna was held. The workshop, organised by the KDZ – Centre for Public Administration Research at the IDM – Institute for Danube Region and Central Europe, saw active participation from 21 attendees representing all six WeBER 3.0 implementing organisations from Western Balkan countries.

This event aimed to foster regional collaboration and knowledge exchange, offering a comprehensive program that included discussions on key topics in public administration reform. The agenda featured sessions on the Common Assessment Framework (CAF), Design Thinking, Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and practical insights into participatory public space development through a visit to the Local Agenda 21 representatives which is a local Viennese initiative that offered practical insights into participatory public space development in districts of Vienna.

The CAF session encouraged in-depth discussions and workshops to provide participants with a profound understanding of the assessment framework’s principles and practical applications. Participants actively engaged in the session, applying their knowledge to real-life challenges faced in their respective regions.

The Design Thinking session stood out as a highlight of the workshop, emphasizing creativity, collaboration, and problem-solving skills. Through interactive exercises and group activities, participants learned innovative approaches to addressing complex issues and generating potential solutions to local PAR challenges.

A visit to the Kardinal Nagl Park provided participants with an inspiring experience, witnessing the successful implementation of citizen participation methods in the park’s renovation. This practical example served as a valuable case study, showcasing how citizen engagement can drive effective and sustainable development projects.

The workshop also included a session on the Sustainable Development Goals Checklist for Municipal Development, broadening participants’ perspectives on aligning local projects with global sustainability agendas. The methodology aimed to integrate SDGs as guiding principles, ensuring local PAR initiatives contribute to regional and global development goals.

Throughout the workshop, sessions encouraged interactive group work, facilitating discussions and enabling participants to collaboratively develop a framework for addressing local PAR issues.

Following the workshop in July, the project team embarked on drafting a methodology for solving local PAR issues. The diverse insights, ideas, and collaborative efforts of the workshop participants formed a solid foundation. Workshop notes, discussions, and group work outcomes are now under review to identify key takeaways and common themes that emerged during the interactive sessions. The draft methodology will undergo several iterations with partners and stakeholders before becoming a coherent and practical guide for local organizations.

This visit marked significant steps forward in the WeBER 3.0 project’s mission to enhance public administration reforms in the Western Balkans.

WeBER closed-door meeting in Brussels: advocating for WB PAR Monitor 2021/2022

By |2023-06-19T16:28:12+02:0025/05/ 2023|News|

Thursday, 25 May 2023 – Today, at the European Policy Centre – EPC Brussels premises, EU WeBER PAR Monitor 2021/2022 results were presented with the support of Smart Balkans at the closed-door round table organised and delivered by our partner, EPC Brussels.

Western Balkan countries have been pursuing EU membership for years, and this path has often proved to be as challenging as ever. Within the entire package of conditions that need to be met before the eventual accession, public administration reform was and is one of the multi-faceted but fundamental areas of intervention but with still suboptimal progress. It is drawing the attention of the EU Commission and domestic civil society in these countries alike. The expectance is that the increased external pressures will bring the region closer to the EU and to human-facing public administrations, making lives and livelihoods easier in dealing with the bureaucracy.

Since 2015, the WeBER has monitored the progress in the public administration reform in countries of the Western Balkans and has opened the public space for more dialogue on the need for citizen-oriented administrative apparatus. Moreover, it has increasingly involved citizens in deliberations on their experience dealing with central state authorities and service providers.

The revised enlargement methodology of 2020 set out to instil new dynamics into the accession process for the Western Balkans and restore the process’s credibility. In that context, it promised, among other things, to increase the use of third-party indicators in the Commission’s assessments – a promise which has not been fulfilled to date. One such third party is the region’s civil society, which has, over the past years, developed and implemented several independent, evidence-based reform monitoring initiatives, offering ample data for the Commission to use and reference in its reports. The event included a presentation of a policy brief which makes a case for the utilisation of the findings produced by such initiatives, as they can greatly contribute to the quality and credibility of the Commission’s reports and strengthen the civil society’s impact in the EU accession process.

Milos Djindjic, Julijana Karai and Alban Dafa presented the monitoring results from the Accountability and Public Finance Management areas at the event.

  • Practices related to Transparency and Accessibility of the Budgets of the WB countries were presented, highlighting good aspects and shortcomings. The results per country mainly remain the same, with the exception of North Macedonia, where the results have decreased since the last monitoring cycle. There is no progress when it comes to this aspect. The participants discussed the causes of stagnation and different incentives which can be used to push governments to improve their transparency (DG NEAR Kloe)
  • SAI External Communications and Engagements towards the public and different stakeholders have been one of the highest-scoring areas, and the practices of SAIs in each country have been improving throughout the years. Results in each country are high. In some countries, SAIs cooperate with CSOs and listen to their suggestions on how to improve the practice of SAI. Kloe from DG NEAR suggested that cases in which SAI audit findings led to a change in policy.
  • The aspect of Proactive Transparency was focused on the case study of 7 central administration bodies in each WB country, accessed based on several criteria. The conclusion of this monitoring cycle is that even when the information published by the institutions is complete, up-to-date and easily accessible, it is still often bureaucratic and not really citizen-friendly. The critical area when it comes to proactive transparency is budget and activity reports, and chronic issues in all WB countries have remained the same since 2018, with results in this area remaining very low. Corina suggested that the results from different cycles may not be comparable since new practices are introduced.

Milena Lazarevic, Programme Director of CEP and Team Leader of WeBER 2.0 presented a paper which focused on different tools developed by CSOs which can be utilised to follow the reform in the Accession Process. The paper pointed out certain problems of the European Commission’s reporting approach, such as the lack of citations and quotes of third-party indicators, which compromises the transparency of the report. CSOs have been cooperating with the Commission in the process of developing the country reports and providing written inputs for the enlargement package, but their contributions are not referenced. Good examples of regional and national initiatives developed by the CSOs, which have a big potential for dissemination, have been presented in the paper. These initiatives include indicators which allow following the situation in different areas of society and can be useful to the Commission. Recommendations have also been presented in order to resolve the issues which persist when it comes to Commission’s reporting approach.

Sandra Laquelle, Chloe Berger and Florian Hauser from DG NEAR discussed the findings of the paper.

11th meeting of the regional WeBER platform

By |2023-04-20T09:57:33+02:0013/04/ 2023|News|

12 April 2023 – Today, an eleventh meeting of the regional WeBER Platform with the goal of discussing the Western Balkans’ civil society monitoring of the EU accession process was held in a hybrid form, online and in Sarajevo.

Milena Lazarević, Programme Director of the European Policy Centre – CEP, and Team Leader of the WeBER 2.0 initiative, opened the meeting by presenting a discussion paper on the revised enlargement methodology and predictability of the EU accession process. In the discussion paper, she pointed out that CSOs have called for more consistent and evidence-based monitoring and assessment to improve the credibility of the enlargement policy and reform processes.

Also, she spoke about the problem of inconsistency in the analysis of different policy aspects from one country’s report to another, which is why the reports are not comparable. A remedy to this problem was offered, such as CSOs performing monitoring of reforms in different areas assessed by the European Commission (EC), and by using third-party indicators based on the regional and national monitoring methodologies (The WeBER PAR Monitor, Monitoring of PAR at the local level – PratimJA initiative).

“Remedy to this problem is relying on the work of CSO and using third-party indicators based on regional or international monitoring methodologies particularly valuable for EC’s annual reporting. “

After the presentation of the discussion paper, examples of civil society’s monitoring reforms were discussed. Anja Basilkova Antovska and Uroš Jovanović from Civic Initiative presented examples. One of them was the establishment of the Council for Cooperation and Development of Civil Society in February this year.

“Establishing this Council for cooperation was very significant to improve CSO-Government relations and creating a stimulating environment for the development of Civil Society. “

Danijela Radošević, Programme Manager at National coalition for Decentralisation (NCD) presented the Civil Society Organisation Sustainability Index, which follows the sustainability of each country’s CSO sector annually. Index has seven dimensions. Some of them are legal environment, advocacy, and service provision. The report analyses 74 countries, and NCD has been creating country reports for Serbia since 2010. She emphasised that Serbia’s overall CSO sustainability rate is 4.3 on a scale from 1 to 7.

Later on, we started a fruitful discussion about the key issues that CSOs saw in the EC’s assessment reports and how they could be solved. In the discussion, Klas Klaas, Regional Manager EU Enlargement from SIGMA gave a meaningful contribution by explaining how SIGMA deals with measuring diffuse areas as public administration reform and why is SIGMA changing the scoring, shifting to percentages when it comes to the quantifying of this area. The whole meeting was moderated by Simona Kacarska, Director at European Policy Institute (EPI) in Skopje.

Daniela Mineva, Senior Analyst from the Center for the Study of Democracy (CSD) presented CSD’s research on the problem of corruption and state capture by portraying meaningful insights about discrepancies in the analysis of how regular employees and management see the issue of corruption in Bulgarian Border Police. Ms Mineva explained the problem of perception about corruption, saying that regular employees are more willing to see and react to the issue of corruption than management.

At the end of the constructive discussion and the meeting Jovana Knežević, Senior Project Manager at CEP and WeBER 2.0 Project Manager, announced the regional survey for assessing the training needs of CSOs in the PAR area.

The discussion throughout the meeting was accompanied by live polls for the participants to get insights at the moment about the topics of the meeting.

This meeting was supported by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), one of the donors of the WeBER2.0 initiative.

WeBER 3.0 project officially launched at online kick off meeting

By |2023-04-19T09:27:36+02:0016/03/ 2023|News, Uncategorized|

15 March 2023 – Today, a kick-off meeting of WeBER 3.0 – Western Balkan Enablers for Reforming Public Administrations project was held, marking the beginning of three and a half-long initiative that the TEN will implement (European Policy Centre – CEP BelgradeEuropean Policy Institute – EPI SkopjeInstitute for Democracy and Mediation – IDM TiranaInsititute Alternative – IA Podgorica, Group for Legal and Political Studies – GLPS PristinaForeign Policy Initiative – FPI Sarajevo) coordinated by the European Policy Centre – CEP Belgrade, and in partnership with the EU-level partner, Centre for Public Administration Research – KDZ from Vienna.

Milena Lazarevic, Team Leader of the WeBER 3.0 initiative, opened the kick-off meeting by greeting participants and reflecting back on the experience gathered during previous projects. Jovana Knezevic, Project Manager, then presented project roles and responsibilities & project timeline to the partners, as well as the process of monitoring project implementation and reporting. Lead Researcher, Milos Djindjic, presented research and analytical activities, and Anesa Omeragic, Communication Coordinator, talked about the visibility and communication activities of the project. Participants discussed key priorities for the project and how it will strengthen the role of civil society in monitoring and evaluating public services, promoting citizen participation in decision-making, and improving the efficiency and effectiveness of government institutions.

The implementation of the third phase of the WeBER initiative is, as has been the case with the previous two (WeBER 2015 – 2018 & WeBER 2.0 2019 – 2023), principally financed by the European Commission.

WeBER3.0 has started!

By |2023-02-20T16:57:10+01:0020/02/ 2023|News|

Western Balkan Enablers for Reforming Public Administrations – WeBER 3.0 project has begun on 1 February 2023 and will run until 31 July 2026. The Think for Europe – TEN Network (European Policy Centre – CEP Belgrade, European Policy Institute – EPI Skopje, Institute for Democracy and Mediation – IDM TiranaInsititute Alternative – IA Podgorica, Group for Legal and Political Studies – GLPS Pristina, Foreign Policy Initiative – FPI Sarajevo) coordinated by the European Policy Centre – CEP Belgrade, and in partnership with the EU-level partner, Centre for Public Administration Research – KDZ from Vienna, will continue to contribute to strengthening of participatory democracy by enabling effective participation of civil society organisations (CSOs) from the Western Balkans (WB) and supporting inclusive citizens’ engagement in monitoring the results of public administration reform (PAR) processes at all levels, in line with the EU requirements (SIGMA/OECD Principles).

WeBER 3.0 will continue to feature the crucial role of civil society in building healthy democracies through empowering CSOs to become reliable partner to governments in the EU accession process. By ensuring continuity in assessment of the progress of the reforms carried out by local civil society actors, WeBER 3.0 and its cornerstone product, the Western Balkan PAR Monitor, will continue to guide the governments in the region towards successful EU accession and membership. CSOs equipped with evidence and knowledge take up central place in the region’s EU path and ensure that the governments do not exercise reform processes to only qualify for the EU membership, but to improve the citizens’ lives.

The project will also contribute to overall regional cooperation by facilitating the CSOs-government dialogue at regional, national and local level, relying on the established WeBER Platform, which will be further enhanced by including the business community representatives.

The main international partners during the WeBER 3.0 will remain SIGMA/OECD and Regional School for Public Administration (ReSPA). Also, the main institutions (ministries/offices) in charge of coordination of PAR in each country will continue to perform the role of the project associates in the third phase of the initiative as well.

The overall objective of the WeBER 3.0 is to to further empower CSOs to contribute to more transparent, open, accountable, citizen-centric, and thus more EU-compliant administrations in the WB region.

The implementation of the third phase of the WeBER initiative is, as has been the case with the previous two (WeBER 2015 – 2018 & WeBER 2.0 2019 – 2023), principally financed by the European Commission.

Ninth meeting of WeBER National Working Group for PAR in North Macedonia

By |2022-12-18T15:36:01+01:0001/12/ 2022|News|

29 November 2022 – In North Macedonia, five grantees from the Small Grant Facility within the WeBER 2.0 project presented their implemented projects, discussed the challenges, as well as future opportunities for cooperation at the ninth meeting of the National Working Group for Public Administration Reform. The event was organised by European Policy Institute – EPI, Skopje.

ssociation Initiative of Unemployed Intellectuals – Vinica; Coalition “All for Fair Trials”; Rural Coalition; FINANCE THINK – Economic Research and Policy Institute and Center for Sustainable Community Development – Debar participated in the Small Grant Facility program with their own projects.