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Transforming Government Policy Planning in the Western Balkans with Key Government Officials and Leading Experts

20 October 2023 News

19-20 October 2023, Vienna, Austria

ReSPA and OECD SIGMA Programme, at the “Regional conference on challenges of achieving effective policy planning in the Western Balkans” teamed up the key Western Balkans public officials with highly-ranked Austrian governmental bodies and prominent experts to exchange insights, ideas, learn strategies and good practices aiming to drive a transformative journey for the region's administrations in the policy-planning area.

The Conference provided deeper insights and proposed some alternative scenarios on how to steer and guide the transformative journey in policy planning and explored how key planning documents, bridge the gap between vision and reality – thus, paving the way for comprehensive government plans, focusing on the importance of sectoral planning system that provides overarching central plans, creating a cohesive, inclusive strategic framework.

Director Handjiska Trendafilova highlighted that “incorporating integrated planning systems in the Western Balkans is crucial for enhancing the entire policy development and legislative processes. This ensures that national priorities align seamlessly with the EU accession process” at the opening.

Katalin Tünde Huber, Head of Unit for EU Enlargement, Austrian Federal Ministry of European and International Affairs, underlined: “Western Balkans needs to speed in delivering the necessary reforms for smooth accession to the EU. On the other hand, the EU Member States should transform the enlargement process into less complex and bureaucratic one”.

Sandra Laquelle, Policy Officer, PAR Unit at DG NEAR praised ReSPA’s and SIGMA’s as reliable partners to the European Commission in propelling the PAR Agenda in the Western Balkans, which is “recognized as one of the key pillars of the EU accession process”. She advised linking EU accession negotiations with the national policy framework for a comprehensive and inclusive process.

Roland Schneider, Deputy Head of the Department, Austrian Federal Ministry for Civil Service shared Austrian experience in Integrated Planning Systems, while Keit Kasemets, a ReSPA expert presented the main results of the draft ReSPA Study on Integrated planning systems in the Western Balkans.

Through three interactive panels, public servants from the region and practitioners discussed the comparison of the legislative and institutional framework for Integrated planning systems in Western Balkans administrations, government planning documents development process and decrypted the planning progression for the European integration.

Bagrat Tunyan, senior policy advisor at OECD/SIGMA, presented the initial findings of the SIGMA study on parliaments and evidence-based lawmaking in the Western Balkan administrations, while Egle Rimkute from OECD SIGMA Programme presented the challenges of aligning policy and financial planning of the upcoming new SIGMA study. Participants discussed with SIGMA and ReSPA their views and ideas on the revised principles of public administration, while the next SIGMA assessment was announced to be launched in January 2024.

Genti Xhaxhiu, ReSPA Programme Coordinator, addressed the audience at the closing of the Conference highlighting, among others, that the conference was not just about discussing challenges and scenarios together; but it's also about building stronger capacities, at the regional level, for a comprehensive and unified approach as regards the integrated policy planning and lawmaking process. “You'll be at the forefront of shaping policies that will define the Western Balkans' growth and progress. Joining forces, we are all captivating experience and unlock the potential of government policy planning in the Western Balkans.”

During November, ReSPA will finalize the Paper on Integrated Policy Planning Systems in the Western Balkans, which will be accessible to public servants, practitioners and researchers.

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