High-level Policy Dialogue, 30 September – 01 October 2019, Ljubljana, Slovenia
ReSPA, in cooperation with Slovenian Ministry of Public Administration, organized for the first time the High-level policy dialogue on the public administration challenges facing the Western Balkan countries. Besides the ministers responsible for public administration in the Western Balkans, and ReSPA Governing Board Members at the Senior Official level, the activity has been attended by the high-level representatives of the European Commission, Ministry of Public Administration from Slovenia, OECD/SIGMA, CEF, etc.
The importance of ReSPA in the light of public administration reforms in the Western Balkan countries was underlined by its Chair Damjan Manchevski, who is also the Minister of North Macedonia for the Information Society and Public Administration. North Macedonia is also paying special attention to the challenges of public administration and digitization through new projects.
Ritva Heikkinen, the representative of the European Commission, stated that the Commission is very pleased to be part of this high-level policy dialogue on public administration reform hosted by the Slovenian Minister for Public Administration Reform and organised by ReSPA. According to Heikkinen, this is a unique opportunity to take stock of past five years of public administration reform implementation in the Western Balkans and discuss the priorities for the future. Heikkinen also stressed that public administration reform is a long-term commitment. Partner governments, especially of the same region may face similar challenges.
ReSPA Director Ratka Sekulovic underlined the excellent collaboration of ReSPA with many institutions and organizations within the region and beyond. In May 2017, ReSPA also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Slovenian Ministry of Public Administration. According to Sekulovic, the document is proof that a high-level dialogue is taking place in the region.
At the event, Serbian Minister of Public Administration and Local Self-Government Branko Ruzic stressed that ReSPA had provided a network of people working for the same thing: to create a public administration that is a professional, modern and efficient public service provider for citizens. Through this network, they can share good practices and experiences so that they can more easily cope with obstacles. Minister Ruzic thanked his Slovenian counterparts for the opportunity to learn from them, adding that this support is so important to them because of Slovenia's EU integration process. Serbia has done a great deal in the field of digitization to relieve its citizens. They also invest in their people. They create a fair, transparent, and motivational workspace. Citizens and entrepreneurs are facing a more efficient public administration, and this means they are on track.
In his address, Josip Grubesa, Minister of Justice of Bosnia and Herzegovina, drew attention to the fact that the meeting was organized in cooperation with the Ministry of Public Administration of the Republic of Slovenia, Member States of the European Union. Slovenian colleagues wholeheartedly share Slovenia's experience in the process of modernizing public administration, which is a clear signal that the EU Member States, with their experience and knowledge in the reform process, are very willing to help the Western Balkan countries. According to Grubesa, Bosnia and Herzegovina still face many challenges when it comes to public administration reform, in particular in terms of lack of political will and readiness, as well as the capacity for substantive reform. It is, therefore, of the utmost importance to ensure such meetings, as the Minister believes that through regional cooperation and joint regional activities, they can achieve much more and overcome the obstacles they face.
Montenegrin Minister Suzana Pribilovic highlighted significant progress in public administration reform. A better level of democracy and the alignment of the legal system with European law has contributed to this. Minister Pribilovic acknowledged ReSPA's support and support for Montenegro's more efficient public administration. Minister Pribilovic said that public administration reform is one of the key areas in the European integration process and is also an important segment for improving the quality of citizens.
Albana Koçiu, Director of the Department of Public Administration in Albania, said that Public Administration Reform is always part of the conversation, especially when we talk about what Albanian needs to achieve to become part of the EU. According to Koçiu, Albania is at a point in time where it is patiently waiting at the stoplight, hoping for the green light. The work ahead will surely be difficult, and it will require all of their efforts, but they look forward to it.
After the introductory presentations, Slovenian experts presented the experience in the field of public administration reform, the remuneration system of civil servants, and their training, as well as eGovernment and public procurement.
In the afternoon sessions, high-level guests provided their input on the topics, and exchange their thought aiming to improve regional cooperation, promote shared learning and support the development of public administration in the countries of the region and thereby integrate into the EU.