1st cycle mobility

The First Cycle of the Capacity Building and Mobility Programme with the Italian Administration Concluded

08 April 2024 News

4-5 April 2024, Podgorica, Montenegro

The First Cycle of the capacity-building and mobility programme titled "Cultivating Excellence towards a Shared European Administrative Space" brought together more than 50 civil servants (divided into three Modules),  alongside over 15 lecturers and speakers who enhanced their understanding of the policy cycle, EU enlargement policy, EU digital policies, and other topics. The program's narrative reached its apex in fostering networking and collaboration, underscoring the importance of cultivating strong connections and promoting cooperation with the Italian administration on national and international fronts.



Fifteen public servants from across the region dealing with negotiations for EU accession delved into pivotal topics including the EU's enlargement policy, the revised enlargement methodology, accelerated integration, the phasing-in approach, structural reforms in preparation for the accession process, etc.

In a more detailed breakdown:

Riccardo SERRI, Deputy Head of the European Union Delegation in Montenegro, extensively discussed the dynamics of European integration in the Western Balkans, the geopolitical landscape, and upcoming challenges. He assured participants that progress in the enlargement process is substantial and ongoing.

Serri engaged in a lively Q&A session, addressing inquiries regarding the prospects of EU enlargement policy in the Western Balkans after the European Parliament's June elections. He urged attendees to prioritize fundamental aspects of accession for deeper integration, stressing the importance of robust human capacity to drive the process forward.

Jelena DŽANKIĆ, a professor from the European University Institute in Florence, provided comprehensive insights into the Revised Enlargement Methodology, offering practical guidance on navigating EU accession negotiations, accelerated integration, and phasing-in approach. She deliberated with participants on challenges associated with the revised methodology and advised on how national structures can adapt their negotiating teams accordingly.

Tijana STANKOVIĆ, Former Assistant Minister in the Ministry of Finance of Montenegro, explored the role of EU integration in expediting structural reforms. She delved deeply into the concept of structural reforms and their interconnectedness with various policies such as the Economic Reform Programme, Public Finance Management, and Public Administration Reform.

Robert WEIBEL, a distinguished crisis negotiator and Head of the Centre for European Negotiation and Decision-Making, led participants through a stimulating negotiation scenario, prompting them to devise innovative solutions within two groups with differing negotiation priorities. He provided thorough debriefings, analyzing participants' performance, identifying strengths and weaknesses, and offering tailored recommendations to enhance their negotiation skills.

Vladimir DROBNJAK, former Chief Negotiator of Croatia, engaged in an open discussion with participants, sharing practical insights on negotiating with the EU based on his firsthand experience leading negotiation teams from 2005 to 2012. Drobnjak emphasized the importance of broad political and social alliances, a stable negotiation team, avoiding political interference, and leveraging the best human capital available for successful accession negotiations.

The Programme was enriched by impulse discussions with Predrag ZENOVIĆ, Chief Negotiator for EU Accession Negotiation of Montenegro and Odeta BARBULLUSHI, foreign policy expert and advisor to the Prime Minister of Albania. With Mr Zenovic, the participants had the chance to brainstorm the state of play regarding the enlargement momentum as well as the efforts undertaken by Montenegro to accelerate the accession talks. Mr. Zenovic emphasised as very critical to maintain institutional memory and stability across all the sectors of the administration. With Ms. Barbullushi, the participants discussed the various regional cooperation agendas as well as the dimension of regional cooperation, in the light of the European integration process. Ms. Barbullushi analyzed the various initiatives from the Berlin Process to the Common Regional Market and the Growth Plan interlinking them together and explaining that however, the ultimate goal should be full accession of the WB in the EU in a credible timeline. 



The primary objective of the Module is to bolster the capabilities of 13 civil servants in evidence-based policy planning, providing them insights into methods and tools for enhancing the efficiency of complex policy planning processes and the importance of involving CSOs and citizens in the policy planning process.

Maria TULLIA GALANTI, Associate Professor from the University of Milan, shed light on the importance of policy design for resilience and explained how policy instruments can be used as design tools, focusing on typologies of policy instruments and aspects of policy mixes.

Based on her 15-year-long experience in various Public Administration reform fields, Dragana ALEKSIĆ shared knowledge and experience on RIA as a tool for improving the policy-making process.

Giulio CITRONI from the University of Calabria elaborated on the importance of agenda setting, formulation, decision-making, implementation and evaluation as constituent elements of the policy-making cycle.

Data availability and data collection were at the heart of presentations and discussions with Marko SAVIĆ, teaching assistant and PhD Candidate at the Faculty of Political Science at the University of Montenegro.

Former Chief Negotiator for the EU Accession of Montenegro and Montenegrin NIPAC Zorka KORDIĆ delved into linking policy planning processes to the EU accession negotiations, explaining the approach that Montenegro deployed when systematically arranging the overall strategic planning process in Montenegro.

Jovana BULATOVIĆ, an expert, shed light on the importance of the participation of citizens and NGOs in policy design, putting emphasis on the importance of public consultations and setting up the metric framework for policy implementation monitoring.

The important perspective of gender “neutrality myth”, gender data gap and lack of disaggregated indicators in monitoring and evaluation has been provided by Olivera KOMAR, Full-time Professor at the Faculty of Political Science at the University of Montenegro.

The Module was closed with the presentation of Professor Marco CALARESU from the University of Sassari, who elaborated on the types and methods of policy evaluation and the role of evidence in policy-making.



During two days, 18 senior civil servants working in different areas of digital transformation delved into numerous topics important for strengthening public administrations' capacity for digital transformation:

Aleksandar MASTILOVIĆ presented the strategy of the Digital Single Market and provided insights into key policies regarding interoperability and cybersecurity, including the EIF, The Interoperability Act, and the NIS 2 Directive. The expert also discussed the challenges and opportunities associated with transposing EU digital transformation policies, emphasizing the importance of ensuring conducive conditions, piloting initiatives, and utilizing pre-accession instruments.

In his presentation, Daniel HINŠT discussed EU Digital Policies, Programmes, and Initiatives, including the Single Digital Gateway Regulation's objectives and implementation in Croatia. He shared information about the main elements of the "A Europe fit for the digital age" initiative and Europe's "Digital Compass" goals and indicators.  The main features of the Digital Europe Programme and Digital Wallet have been presented as well and discussed with participants..

Art ALISHANI provided an overview of the latest EU policy on Artificial Intelligence (AI) and its perceived impact on digital government, highlighting key provisions on the expected implementation of the AI EU Act. The expert presented the evolution of different aspects of EU regulation in AI in comparison with other global developments.

The Module was an excellent opportunity for sharing insights into selected good practices related to EU initiatives and programmes that are implemented in the region:

  • A case study on the Digital Wallet from Bosnia and Herzegovina, presented by Almir BADNJEVIĆ, the Director of IDDEEA;
  • An examination of cross-border interoperability, focusing on eIDAS in Montenegro, presented by Danilo RACIĆ, a Senior Civil Servant from the Ministry of Public Administration and
  • Insights into the Digital Europe Programme from the Ministry of Information and Public Administration in North Macedonia, presented by Stanislav VASILKOVSKI.

During the Module, the participants had an opportunity to have a Fireside Chat with Almir BADNJEVIĆ, IDDEEA, BiH. Intensive discussion between participants included questions and answers on a wide range of topics in line with digitalisation, leadership, communication and coordination activities, trust services and other things related to the digital transformation of public administration.

The Module concluded with a world café facilitated by Art Alishani and co-facilitated by Aleksandar Mastilović with group discussions on:

  • Benefits and challenges of developing policies for digital transformation - selected topics: Cyber security, AI
  • The implementation of the policies-ensuring the conditions and implementation - selected topics: Interoperability, e IDAS

The next cycle of the programme will be organized from May – June 2024 in the Campus of the Italian School of Administration in Caserta where the participants will be under the guidance of Italian lecturers and speakers. The in-class programme will be followed by study visits to various Italian institutions in the capital Rome. The programme will be concluded in October with a major Conference organized in partnership with the Italian Administration.

The programme is funded by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and implemented in partnership with the Regional School of Public Administration (ReSPA) and the Italian National School of Administration (SNA).

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