Opening governments in times of lockdown: Lessons learned for citizen-orientated administrations from the COVID-19 crisis in the Western Balkans

This policy brief examines the approaches of public administrations in the Western Balkans to the COVID-19 crisis. It looks at the quality of communication and implementation of the measures taken by the governments of the Western Balkans to respond to the pandemic. It argues that simple and streamlined communication and transparency in the implementation of such measures are equally, if not more, important in times of emergencies and crises when citizens are more vulnerable in their relationship with the government than in normal times. Based on an overview of positive and negative practices exhibited in the region, this brief offers a set of recommendations for governments to consider as soon as possible, in order to ensure maximum learning from this experience. There is a two-fold benefit to considering these recommendations. Firstly, they may prove valuable in the event of a second wave of pandemic (as is projected by epidemiologists), which might require the re-imposition of some measures in the coming months. Secondly, certain precautionary measures are likely to remain in place even after lockdowns and restrictions across the region are ended, with the implementation of these recommendations potentially of benefit to citizens in the near future as well.

The Policy Brief can be downloaded here.

Public administration reform in Kosovo

A CSOs perspective

This policy brief aims to present the main results of the frst monitoring cycle which covers September 2017-September 2018.
WeBER monitoring findings suggest that Kosovo performs best in the area of PDC and SD although the scores are average whereas worst in the area of SFPAR. Speciffcally, the overall results (in terms of total scores) show that compared to the other six Western Balkan countries, Kosovo ranks second only after Albania, leaving behind the leaders in the EU membership process, Montenegro and Serbia.

The Policy Brief can be downloaded here.

Civil society monitoring of public administration reform Is Albania walking the talk?

This policy brief presents the findings from the PAR monitoring performed in Albania within WeBER using a common regional methodology. The monitoring found that Albania has accomplished the most in the administrative reform areas of service delivery, public service and human resource management and public finance management. On the other hand, the reform area of policy development and coordination has emerged as the most challenging area, followed by accountability and strategic framework of PAR.

The Policy Brief can be downloaded here.

Proactive transparency and the right of access to information: Two sides of the same coin

Depending on the side initiating communication, there is a reactive transparency of the administration in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and it is based on citizens requesting information pursuant to the Freedom of Access to Information Act, and the requested information is then granted to the citizens upon their request; and there is a proactive transparency, where the administration publishes specific information on its own initiative because it wants to inform the citizens of its work, on their rights and obligations, or wishes to involve the citizens in decision-making processes pertaining to laws, policies, actions and other.

The Policy Brief can be downloaded here.

Preparing for accession negotiations in the Republic of Macedonia: What can we learn from WeBER monitoring?

This policy brief reflects on the significance of the findings of the WeBER project for the preparation of the institutional structures and procedures for managing the EU accession negotiations in the Republic of Macedonia. The WeBER project monitored a selected number of principles through its own indicators in all areas of the Principles of Public Administration and its findings are presented in a National Report and a Regional Comparative Report. These principles, offer a common denominator of public administration reform of all EU-aspiring countries, setting its course towards EU membership.

The policy brief can be downloaded here.

Lack of government transparency in Serbia: Low accountability domestically and poor response to EU conditionality

The Government of Serbia falls short of ensuring transparency of its work. By regularly publishing cherry-picked information from its sessions, access to all adopted decisions becomes hardly possible and the approach to provision of information unjustifiably selective. In addition, by irregularly reporting to the public on its performance, the Government reduces possibilities for public scrutiny of its results. Also, irregular reporting on budgetary performance adds to the overall picture of insufficient and low-quality reporting. Civil society in Serbia recognises these problems and holds the view that the Government’s decision making is for the most part hidden from the eyes of the public. If the Government wishes to adhere to the principles of good governance, it can only do so by thoroughly and regularly publishing detailed information about its activities and results, thus paving the way for free exercise of public scrutiny and facilitating the accountability for its actions.

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Coping with the EU decision-making: How are the Balkan countries preparing their policymaking systems for membership?

High-quality standards in the development and coordination of public policy are always relevant in a domestic context but even more so in the framework of EU accession. Under the public administration reform (PAR) pillar of the European Union’s conditionality for the Balkans, the EU puts a strong emphasis on the improvement of the aspirants’ policy development and coordination practices. Independent monitoring suggests that the region’s governments currently display a low level of preparedness in the sphere of policymaking and coordination. Out of the broad PAR portfolio within the EU accession process, the area of policy development and coordination stands out as one of the weakest points.

Download the Policy Brief here.

Western Balkan PAR Monitor 2017/2018 Executive Summary

This document represents an Executive Summary of Western Balkan PAR Monitor. The PAR Monitor comprises an overall comparative regional report and six country reports, each including findings on the 23 compound indicators designed by the WeBER project team to monitor a selection of 21 EU-SIGMA principles. This document provides a summary of the key regional findings in the six areas of PAR.

Download the document here.

Putting citizens first (?)
Exploring public perceptions of administrative services in the Western Balkans

Governments across the Western Balkans have made efforts towards improving service delivery; however, they are still unable to meet their citizens’ expectations of more accessible, transparent and responsive services. Part of the problem is that governments continue to typically design and offer services on the basis of their own requirements instead of taking into account the perspectives and needs of the citizens they serve.

This report draws on a regional survey of 6172 respondents from Western Balkans aged 18 and older, surveyed in the second half of October and during November 2017 by using stratified three-stage random representative sampling. Its main aim was to explore perceptions towards the implementation of a citizen-oriented delivery of administrative services using the years 2015-2017 as a reference period. The main survey results are analysed below in four clusters: administrative simplification, e-services, feedback mechanisms of service delivery, and monitoring.

Download the Survey Report here.

Balkan enlargement and the politics of civic pressure: The case of the public administration reform sector

In this Policy Brief, Milena Lazarevic and Corina Stratulat review the origins of civil society involvement in the public sector reforms leading to a country’s accession to the European Union. The search for civil society allies represents a promising break with the legacy of previous accessions in which governments were the Commission’s only trusted interlocutors.

This policy brief was originally published by European Policy Centre – EPC, as part of the collaboration with the Think for Europe Network, under the framework of the WeBER project.

Download the Policy Brief here.