Western Balkans High-level political dialogue on Public Administration Reform: Crafting Comprehensive Policies to Attract, Motivate, and Retain Skilled Professionals
Sarajevo, 17th November 2023
ReSPA, as a regionally-owned platform strongly backed by the European Union, facilitated the annual high-level policy dialogue on PAR which gathered ministers from the region and high-ranking representatives from the European Commission in charge of PAR, partner institutions, youth representatives and CSOs to address crucial aspects pivotal for the sustainable and inclusive growth of the region and its path towards EU integration.
“Once a year, ReSPA brings together the most significant actors in PAR from the region and the European Commission, our partners and CSOs to discuss topics that directly impact the quality of lives of our citizens, the environment conducive to our businesses, and the overall policy outcomes, including the levels of trust in our institutions.
In this year’s Policy Dialogue, our focus lies on human resources and our public service, recognized as the backbone for all reform agendas. With a great lineup of panellists ready to unpack some of the key reform priorities ahead, I strongly believe that we can all unite around the principles and values that make public services an attractive choice for employment, particularly for our young generation.
This year has been exceptionally productive and demanding for the ReSPA team. We are committed to elevating ReSPA's status as a more influential lever for reform and a catalyst for change. I urge all of you to participate actively today and utilize ReSPA as a crucial regional partner, aiding the region's pursuit of a better society and a more promising European outlook. The ReSPA team is prepared and eager to contribute” said Maja HANDJISKA-TRENDAFILOVA, ReSPA Director at opening.
Ministers in charge of PAR in the Western Balkans - Elisa SPIROPALI, Albanian Minister of State for Parliament Relations of Albania, Davor BUNOZA, Minister of Justice of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Maraš DUKAJ, Minister of Public Administration of Montenegro, Azir ALIU, Minister of Information Society and Administration of North Macedonia, Maja MAČUŽIĆ-PUZIĆ, State Secretary of the Ministry of Public Administration of Serbia and Bardhyl Dobra, Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs (in charge of PAR) of Kosovo* discussed accomplishments within their respective administrations over the past year and concrete actions taken in attracting and motivating professionals. They emphasized the significance of collaborating regionally and acknowledged the European Commission's continued support, which is evident through the work of ReSPA.
Minister BUNOZA, Chair of ReSPA’s Governing Board and host of this year’s Policy Dialogue pointed out that Bosnia and Herzegovina has been an active member of ReSPA since its foundation, and civil servants from all over BiH participate in all ReSPA activities, such as seminars, conferences, meetings, training and other types of education that enable regional cooperation and exchange of experiences between ReSPA Members. Bunoza underlined that public administration reform represents a great challenge for Bosnia and Herzegovina due to its specific constitutional structure. “We will try to use everything that ReSPA provides - through the adoption of the best practices of neighbouring countries, exchange of opinions, constructive dialogue, workshops, thematic meetings and other types of activities, we take for ourselves what fits best in the context of BiH and what will contribute to the meaningful implementation reform activities” concluded Minister BUNOZA.
Recognizing the fundamental role of PAR in the region's sustainable growth and EU integration, ministers reiterated their commitment to collaborative efforts and leadership in implementing reforms and endorsed the Joint Statement on the Occasion of High-Level Policy Dialogue “Attractive and Skilled Public Service Fit for Future” They have committed to investing additional efforts to design and implement policies and actions that will make the Western Balkans civil service a career of choice, promoting youth participation and co-creating in policy-making and service delivery. They also have committed to supporting the development and implementation of mobility programs, undertaking regional initiatives to enhance capacities, exchange knowledge and experiences, and participating and co-creating in policy-making and service delivery. They also have committed to supporting the development and implementation of mobility programs, undertaking regional initiatives to enhance capacities, exchange knowledge and experiences, and many others in the realms of PAR as one of the fundamentals of the European integration process, and in the light of the new EU Growth plan for the Western Balkans.
Vaclav STERBA, Team Leader for PAR, DG NEAR, European Commission underlined that the topic of the Political Dialogue could not be more relevant, since the President of the European Commission revealed the Growth Plan for the Western Balkans, whose implementation relies on devoted civil servants from the region which should now “work hard with EU which will not be easy because the high expectations from the European Commission” in implementing PAR Agenda as one of the Fundamentals in the EU accession process. Sterba underlined that Western Balkans has made significant advancement in adopting laws in line with the EU acquis, and now is the time for proper implementation.
Florian HAUSER, Deputy of Head of Unit for Public Administration and Governance, DG Reform, European Commission shed light on the European Commission’s new initiative “Enhancing the European Administrative Space (ComPAct)”, its strategic vision in bolstering the resilience, innovation and competence of EU Member States administrations, but also in EU enlargement countries to enhance their public administration by participating in peer learning and acting as observers in projects managed by European Commission.
Policy Dialogue served also as a valuable platform for exchanging diverse successful practices within the region regarding attracting young talents. It facilitated a dialogue with the region's talented youth and RYCO, seeking their perspectives on what constitutes youth-friendly and appealing public services - ones that would motivate their active contribution. Albert HANI, Secretary General of RYCO with impulse intervention on Ministerial dialogue discussed youth proofing of PAR, while in the Panel “Attractive public administration through youth and civil society lenses – how should public administration change, adapt and improve?” Ognjen MARKOVIĆ, Team Leader of the Western Balkan Youth Lab Project from RCC, Miljana PEJIĆ, Secretary General of National Youth Council of Serbia and Neda MALESKA-SACHMAROSKA, Executive Director of Center of Change Management suggested various modalities of more efficient involvement of youth in the development of public policies.
Moreover, ReSPA's partners, such as CEF and the European School of Administration, showcased innovative approaches and immersive initiatives. Jana REPANSEK, Director of CEF and Christiane KEUTHENS, Deputy Head of the European School of Administration (EuSA) shed light on “Learning as a skill”, presenting what their institutions do to spur the learning process within public administrators. These efforts aim to transform public service institutions into learning organizations. Such transformation fosters learning as an increasingly vital and desirable competence and skill within the public sector.
Finally, at the panel “Walking the Talk: Good Practices from the Western Balkans Boosting Attractiveness and Skill Agenda in Public Sector” Ardit GABILI, Director of Quality Assurance and Development Directory, Albanian School of Public Administration, Rebeka RAKIP, Head of Unit for Coordination of Human Resource Management, Ministry of Information Society and Administration of North Macedonia, Marija HAJDUKOVIĆ, Director General for Strategic Planning in Public Administration, International Cooperation, and IPA Projects, Montenegro and Jasmina BENMANSUR, Assistant Minister, Ministry of Public Administration and Local Self-government of Serbia presented achievements and projects within their respective administrations, highlighting the need for even greater regional collaboration and concrete support from ReSPA in the upcoming period.
The panel offered them an outstanding chance to listen to and discuss practical guidance from Vaclav STERBA, Team Leader for Public Administration Reform at DG NEAR, European Commission, and Blanca LAZARO, Senior Policy Advisor from the SIGMA Programme. They delved into strategic aspects and the ongoing development of public policies for further insights and direction in their work.
* This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244 and ICJ opinion on the Kosovo Declaration of independence.