13th Governing Board Meeting at Ministerial level
ReSPA organized the 13th Governing Board meeting at the Ministerial level, which gathered distinguished guests - Deputy Prime Ministers and Ministers responsible for the public administration in the Western Balkans: Mr Arben Ahmetaj, Deputy Prime Minister, Republic of Albania, Mr Josip Grubeša, Minister of Justice,BiH, Mr Jeton Shaqiri, Minister of Information Society and Administration, Republic of North Macedonia, Ms Tamara Srzentić, Minister of Public Administration, Digital Society and Media, Montenegro, Ms Marija Obradović, Minister of Public Administration and Local Self-Government, Republic of Serbia.
High representatives of the European Commission - Mr Allan Jones, Head of Unit for Strategy, Policy, EEA/EFTA, DG NEAR, Mr Florian Hauser, PAR Team Leader, DG NEAR, Ms Sandra Laquelle, Policy Officer, PAR, DG NEAR, Ms Judit Torok, Policy Officer, PAR, DG NEAR attended the Meeting as well as Mr Gregor Virant, Head of SIGMA Programme and other distinguish ReSPA Governing Board and Working Group Members.
The main emphasis of the Closed session of the Meeting reflects the recognition of the work done by ReSPA in the last year, which reflected the unanimous adoption of the ReSPA Annual Report and the Budget 2021-2022 and Envelope 2022.
The Meeting served as an excellent forum to discuss, debate and bring forward initiatives and topics which require political support and attention in a multi-layer perspective. Thus, Ministers from ReSPA Members, high representatives of the European Commission, and OECD/SIGMA discussed and endorsed a Joint Declaration on Public Administration Reform, entitled "On the affirmation of commitment to increasing policy dialogue, regional cooperation and political attention to Public Administration Reform in the Western Balkans. Through this declaration, the Ministers urge political leadership towards implementing public administration reform and accountability and emphasize a better linkage between policy planning and budgeting processes.
"The ministers fully supported the endorsement of the Joint Declaration on PAR which aims to bring regional cooperation in the domain of PAR to a more advanced and strategic level. This becomes even more crucial considering that public administration reform is one of the most important pillars of the enlargement process together with the rule of law and economic governance. In addition, we appreciate the trust that Ministers from the Region have vested in ReSPA, through their call for cooperation among their administrations and ReSPA" emphasised Ms Ratka Sekulović, ReSPA Director.
At the end of the Closed session of the Meeting, Ms Marija Obradović, the Minister of Public Administration and Local Self-Government, Republic of Serbia, handed over the ReSPA chairmanship to Ms Belioza Coku, Director of the Cabinet of the Deputy of Prime Minister.
Minister Obradović thanked all ReSPA member countries for their cooperation and ReSPA for all successfully implemented activities during the presidency of the Republic of Serbia. "ReSPA has responded to all the challenges posed by the pandemic, adapting to new ways of communication", highlighted Minister Obradović. Minister Obradović also shared the belief that joint results during the Republica Serbia's presidency of ReSPA will further strengthen cooperation in the region and improve the implementation of public administration reform in all members of ReSPA.
Ms Coku ensured that Albania would closely work with ReSPA and invest substantial efforts to strengthen the ReSPA mission and actions in the Region during Albania's chairmanship.
The Open session of the Meeting consisted of three interesting presentations, all related to the PAR processes:
Mr Gentian Xhaxhiu, ReSPA Programme Manager, presented the Ministerial Declaration on Public Administration Reform in the Western Balkans proposed by ReSPA and endorsed by the relevant ministers responsible for PAR in the Western Balkans. The 2018 Enlargement Strategy considered PAR as paramount to strengthening governance at all levels. It is deemed important that Ministers from the Western Balkans confirm and reinvigorate political leadership towards implementing PAR and accountability through emphasising a better linkage between policy planning and budgeting processes.
Mr Gregor Virant, Head of Programme SIGMA/OECD presented the process and some main findings of the completed complex monitoring of public administrations of the Western Balkans against the Principles of Public Administration which will result in comprehensive reports with analysis and recommendations in all areas of public administration reform, corroborated by fresh data and evidence. Mr Virant also announced the country-by-country presentations in December, the ministerial launch event in January and will reflect on the ongoing process of revision of the principles of PA.
Mr Francesco Molinari, ReSPA guest speaker, sheds light on the state of the art of the latest EU directions in digital transformation and the place that emerging ICT technologies have in them and how this is reflected in developed policies and practices in the EU for using technologies such as AI, Blockchain, IoT, etc.
Mr Molinari also focuses on the challenges met in this process and on lessons learned that could be used as benchmarks for the Western Balkans. He also reflects on ReSPA possibility in assisting the WB public administrations to address specificities related to new ICT technologies by supporting peer-learning and knowledge sharing so that public officials are better equipped and more confident when designing effective digitised public services embedding emerging ICT technologies.