Information Sessions: WeBER 2.0 Small Grant Facility

WeBER 2.0 – Western Balkan Civil Society Empowerment for a Reformed Public Administration is seeking project proposals for the implementation of the Local Civil Society PAR Enabling Small Grant Facility (SGF) for support to civil society monitoring of public administration reform at the local level. Find more information here.

Please find below information about the info sessions that will be held for interested applicants.

Please announce your participation at the info session by contacting the country representative as indicated in the table below.

Country

Organiser of the info session

Date

Time

Contact

Serbia European Policy Centre – CEP 24 September 2020 11.00 Jovana Knezevic jovana.knezevic@cep.org.rs
Albania Institute for Democracy and Mediation – IDM 25 September 2020 11.00 Iliada Korcari ikorcari@idmalbania.org
Kosovo Group for Legal and Political Studies – GLPS 24 September 2020 10.00 Ema Pula ema.pula@legalpoliticalstudies.org 
Montenegro Institute Alternative – IA 24 September 2020 11.00 Dragana Jacimovic dragana@institut-alternativa.org
Bosnia and Herzegovina Foreign Policy Initiative BH – FPI BH 25 September 2020 11.00 Mahir Sijamija mahir@vpi.ba
North Macedonia European Policy Institute – EPI 28 September 2020 12.30 Vaska Ristovska vaska.ristovska@epi.org.mk

Public perceptions of service delivery in the Western Balkans are on the rise

Results from the public perception survey on service delivery suggest that governments in the Western Balkans are striving towards digitalisation and citizen-oriented services.[1] This year’s surveys show that all of the countries in the region are either making progress or remain at the level of the first PAR Monitor 2017/2018.

Public perception points to a more citizen-oriented service delivery

Compared to the results of the previous PAR Monitor, Serbia and Albania record the most noticeable changes with regards to citizens’ perceived simplicity of dealing with public administration (Graph 1). In other words, there were respectively 23 and 18 percentage point increases in these two countries, followed by Montenegro at 14 percentage points.

Survey also show that roughly two thirds of citizens in the region feel that governments are moving towards digitalisation (69%). Apart from Bosnia and Herzegovina, where slightly below 50% of citizens perceive this trend, in all the other countries of the region, between 66 and 81% of citizens surveyed feel this way. At the regional level, citizens noted positive improvement in the time needed to obtain administrative services. This was especially so in Serbia, Albania, and Montenegro, where more than 60% citizens confirmed it has decreased.

It is also worth noting that 58% of citizens in the region claim to recognise governments’ efforts to simplify administrative procedures – more than in the previous PAR Monitor. As before, public administration in Kosovo takes first place according to perceptions, followed by Serbia.

The availability of e-services: more awareness, same levels of usage

The public is increasingly aware of e-services across the Western Balkan countries. Unlike the previous PAR Monitor, no country records below 50% of awareness, with as high as 74% of citizens in Albania (Graph 2). On the flip side, we find that a lot of citizens still do not use these services – a third of citizens in the region stated they had never used them. Additionally, with less than a third of citizens using them either rarely or just sometimes, many used them only occasionally. Notably, only 10% of citizens have used e-services often.

At the same time, surveys show that most citizens in every country (between 70 and 80%) report that e-services are easy to use. This resembles the results of PAR Monitor 2017/2018, in which approximately 80% of citizens surveyed in all countries included reported the ease of use of these services.

Bearing in mind the high awareness figures, a lack of information on e-services is unlikely to account for the low-level usage. More than two thirds of citizens who used e-services, more or less frequently, had little or no difficulties finalising services they requested. Nonetheless, in terms of public perceptions, there has been tangible improvement in citizen-oriented service delivery in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, and Serbia. On the other hand, the situation in Kosovo and North Macedonia has mostly remained unchanged.

 

 

[1] As for the 2017/2018 PAR Monitor, public perception of the awareness of and usefulness of feedback mechanisms, and their availability to citizens, is measured with public perception surveys that were implemented in each of the Western Balkan countries in the same manner. Surveys were implemented in the period from 5 to 30 May 2020.

 

OPEN CALL FOR PROPOSALS: 2021-2022

The Local Civil Society PAR Enabling Small Grant Facility (SGF) of the WeBER 2.0 Project will be implemented in the period January 2021 – January 2022. A total sum of 225.000 EUR will be allocated to support up to 30 grants.

The overall goal of the Small Grant Facility corresponds to the specific objective of the WeBER 2.0 project: To strengthen the engagement of grassroots and other local CSOs in local PAR, thus further building bottom-up demand and bringing PAR closer to region’s citizens.

The aim of the Small Grant Facility is to provide support for grassroots and local CSOs, that are active in monitoring and evaluation of the PAR in the Western Balkans. Additionally, the Small Grant Facility will support CSOs to engage citizens in PAR through implementation of local citizens consultations, to advocate for PAR locally and establish dialogue on PAR with local authorities. The complete Call for Proposals and all relevant documents are available for download here (in English).

Below you can find information and application packages in local languages:

ALBANIA

Fuqizimi i Shoqërisë Civile të Ballkanit Perëndimor për një Administratë Publike të Reformuar shpall thirrjen për projekt-propozime për zbatimin e ndarjes së granteve të vogla për mbështetjen e monitorimit të reformës së administratës publike nga shoqëria civile, në nivelin lokal. Thirrja për propozime ka shumën totale prej 225.000 EUR, të destinuara për të mbështetur deri në 30 grante, secila me vlerë deri në 8000 EUR (7500 EUR mesatarisht), nga të cilat 6 në Serbi, 6 në Bosnje dhe Hercegovinë, 5 në Shqipëri, 5 në Maqedoninë e Veriut, 4 në Kosovë dhe 4 në Mal të Zi. Kohëzgjatja e granteve është mes 6 dhe 12 muaj. Projekti WeBER 2.0 financohet nga Bashkimi Evropian (BE). Thirrja e plotë për Propozime dhe të gjitha dokumentet përkatëse janë në dispozicion për shkarkim më poshtë:

Paketa e dokumenteve për aplikim

BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA

WeBER 2.0 projekat – Osnaživanje civilnog društva Zapadnog Balkana za reformisanu javnu upravu raspisuje konkurs za dodjelu malih grantova za podršku organizacijama civilnog društva koje se bave monitoringom reforme javne uprave na lokalnom nivou. Ukupna predviđena sredstva iznose 225.000 eura i ona su namjenjena za podršku 30 projekata u iznosu do 8.000 eura (7.500 eura u prosjeku) od kojih će do 6 biti podržano u Srbiji, do 6 u Bosni i Hercegovini, do 5 u Albaniji, do 5 u Sjevernoj Makedoniji, do 4 na Kosovu i do 4 u Crnoj Gori. Predviđeno trajanje projekata koji će biti odobreni u okviru konkursa je između 6 i 12 mjeseci. WeBER 2.0 projekat finansira EU. Kompletna konkursna dokumentacija nalazi se ispod:

Konkursna dokumentacija

KOSOVO

WeBER 2.0 – Fuqizimi i Shoqërisë Civile të Ballkanit Perëndimor për një Administratë Publike të Reformuar shpall thirrjen për projekt-propozime për zbatimin e ndarjes së granteve të vogla për mbështetjen e monitorimit të shoqërisë civile të reformës së administratës publike në nivelin lokal. Thirrja për propozime ka shumën totale prej 225.000 EUR, të destinuara për të mbështetur deri në 30 grante, secila me vlerë deri në 8000 EUR (7500 EUR mesatarisht), nga të cilat 6 në Serbi, 6 në Bosnje dhe Hercegovinë, 5 në Shqipëri, 5 në Maqedoninë e Veriut, 4 në Kosovë dhe 4 në Mal të Zi. Kohëzgjatja e granteve është mes 6 dhe 12 muaj. Projekti WeBER 2.0 financohet nga Bashkimi Evropian (BE). Thirrja e plotë për Propozime dhe të gjitha dokumentet përkatëse janë në dispozicion për shkarkim më poshtë:

Paketa e dokumenteve për aplikim

MONTENEGRO

WeBER 2.0 projekat – Osnaživanje civilnog društva Zapadnog Balkana za reformisanu javnu upravu raspisuje konkurs za dodjelu malih grantova za podršku organizacijama civilnog društva koje se bave monitoringom reforme javne uprave na lokalnom nivou. Ukupna predviđena sredstva iznose 225.000 eura i ona su namijenjena za podršku 30 projekata u iznosu do 8.000 eura (7.500 eura u prosjeku) od kojih će do 6 biti podržano u Srbiji, do 6 u Bosni i Hercegovini, do 5 u Albaniji, do 5 u Sjevernoj Makedoniji, do 4 na Kosovu i do 4 u Crnoj Gori. Predviđeno trajanje projekata koji će biti odobreni u okviru konkursa je između 6 i 12 mjeseci. WeBER 2.0 projekat finansira Evropska unija (EU). Kompletna konkursna dokumentacija nalazi se ispod:

Konkursna dokumentacija

NORTH MACEDONIA

WeBER 2.0 – Зајакнување на граѓанското општество од западниот Балкан за реформирана јавна администрација е во потрага по предлози за проекти за спроведување на Програмата за мали грантови за поддршка на следењето на реформите во јавната администрација на локално ниво од страна на граѓанското општество. Повикот е со вкупна вредност од 225.000 евра и се планира да се поддржат до 30 грантови, секој со вредност до максимум 8000 евра (7500 евра во просек), од кои 6 во Србија, 6 во БиХ, 5 во Албанија, 5 во Северна Македонија, 4 во Косово и 4 во Црна Гора. Траењето на избраните грантови ќе биде помеѓу 6 и 12 месеци. Проектот WeBER 2.0 е финансиран од Европската Унија. Комплетниот повик и сите потребни документи се достапни за симнување:

Пакет документи за аплицирање

SERBIA

WeBER 2.0 projekat – Osnaživanje civilnog društva Zapadnog Balkana za reformisanu javnu upravu raspisuje konkurs za dodelu malih grantova za podršku organizacijama civilnog društva koje se bave monitoringom reforme javne uprave na lokalnom nivou. Ukupna predviđena sredstva iznose 225.000 evra i ona su namenjena za podršku 30 projekata u iznosu do 8.000 evra (7.500 evra u proseku) od kojih će do 6 biti u podržano u Srbiji, do 6 u Bosni i Hercegovini, do 5 u Albaniji, do 5 u Severnoj Makedoniji, do 4 na Kosovu i do 4 u Crnoj Gori. Predviđeno trajanje projekata koji će biti odobreni u okviru konkursa je između 6 i 12 meseci. WeBER 2.0 projekat finansira Evropska unija (EU). Kompletna konkursna dokumentacija nalazi se ispod:

Konkursna dokumentacija

The rise of a pan-European alliance for the rule of law

Slowly but surely, citizens and the economy of the European Union are beginning to feel the direct and negative repercussions of an increasingly present disregard for breaches of rule of law across member states. The concept of rule of law (which includes elements such as the principle of legality, legal certainty, separation of powers, the prohibition of arbitrary executive power, and the presence of a functional judicial system) is therefore no longer abstract and reserved for discussions within the expert community. In fact, the greatest and most palpable of the EU’s achievements – the single market, the Schengen Zone, and the Eurozone – cannot function if the stability of rule of law is endangered in any member state. At the same time, the existing EU protection mechanisms for the rule of law have so far been redundant. This causes growing frustration within the EU, to the point that some intellectuals openly condition their support for the EU with results in this area. The importance of rule of law, therefore, takes on a practical dimension alongside the normative.

From the standpoint of an advocate for the European project in Serbia also bitter about the hypocritical attitude of key EU actors towards political elites in Serbia and the Western Balkans, I perceive such a development as an opportunity to create a pan-European alliance for defending rule of law, bearing in mind that neither the EU’s future nor our region’s accession process, have much hope without brave and ambitious steps in this area.

Simply put, future enlargements will not happen, as long as a functional system for protecting rule of law is not established within the EU. Many member states will not permit new entrants if the only somewhat effective system of conditionality exists during accession negotiations (i.e. prior to membership). If there is no concrete progress in preventing breaches to rule of law, either on the EU’s side or by the candidate countries, the revised approach to the accession process of the Western Balkans (the “new methodology”) will also be limited in its application. How, for example, would one permit the phased accession of candidates to sectoral policies of the EU, such as within the single market cluster, knowing that the functioning of the single market is dependent on the proper application of rule of law?

To prepare for the difficult times ahead, the citizens of Europe need new guiding ideas and goals, which would give them a purpose and reawaken their spirits. A pan-European alliance for defending rule of law would have its stronghold in the citizens, as well as of political and economic actors of member states and EU aspirants, brought together both by normative ideals and pragmatic interests. Aware of the risks to the existing level of economic integration and legal security, or simply out of a wish to live in a better-organised society, this bloc has immense potential to gather a wide array of supporters and, with adequate political representation, to become a challenger to the status quo.

Beyond growing public endorsement, this alliance would be armed with existing initiatives and policy proposals at the EU level, which promise to start a revolution of sorts within the existing legal framework. Other than the infringement procedure which is launched by the European Commission (EC), and the preliminary rulings by the European Court of Justice, which could both be used more confidently in the future, a proposal for a Regulation on the protection of the Union’s budget in cases of generalised deficiencies as regards the rule of law in the member states, also deserves substantial attention. The goal of this regulation is to condition access to EU financial resources on adherence to rule of law, giving unprecedented authority to the European Commission. Among others, this regulation would turn the EC into a sort of Venice Commission for the EU budget, authorised to implement measures in cases of limited rule of law, in close cooperation with the European Public Prosecution Office and the European Anti-Fraud Office. The Council of the EU would also reach decisions by reverse qualified majority voting, intended to make it difficult for member states to block EC proposals, thus speeding up the decision-making process.

Eventually, the pan-European alliance would pressure political representatives and foster political will, in order to push forward various measures for the protection of rule of law within the framework of the EU as well as in the context of the Western Balkans’ accession process. Of course, this alliance would necessarily have to introduce sensitive issues to the public along the way, such as Europe’s demographic picture and policies, and (ir)regular migrations, which potential allies and supporters within the EU and the Western Balkans are perhaps not yet ready to face. Nevertheless, is it worth sacrificing the greatest achievements of the EU for the sake of defending the “gates of Europe” and its purported “Christian identity”, by mutually tolerating open breaches of rule of law? It most certainly is not, and now is the right moment to stop running from these issues out of a fear of populism and to instead shake up the status quo with a fresh perspective.

Sena Marić, Programme Manager and Senior Researcher, European Policy Centre – CEP

Providers of administrative services need to regularly reveal the content of feedback by citizens

Brand-new public perception survey results indicate fewer citizen-friendly options for providing opinions on administrative services, compared to PAR Monitor 2017/2018. At the same time, public opinion regarding the involvement of citizens and civil society in monitoring services is clearly growing. When it comes to the availability of information on citizen feedback, websites of service providers are no better than before. Such information on received feedback is mostly absent from their online portals, even in its most basic form.

The public views feedback channels as harder to use but stronger effects of external monitoring of service delivery

Perception surveys indicate that around half of the Western Balkan population sees possibilities to give opinions on the quality of services. This perception grew for almost 20% since the PAR Monitor 2017/2018.[1] On the country level, roughly a third of citizens in Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina believe this is the case while in all the others, it reaches more than 50% of population.

In terms of the citizen-friendliness however, things appear to have gotten worse. A striking example is Albania, with 42% less of those surveyed noting that feedback channels are easy to use. In four of the countries, this decline is 30 percentage points or more.

More citizens in the region feel they are involved, together with civil society, in monitoring service delivery by administrations (42% as opposed to 26% previously). This has also led to a growing perception that such involvement has in fact improved service delivery. The difference can go as high as 20 percentage points, as in the cases of Kosovo and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Service providers remain reluctant to divulge details on feedback from citizens

There is a general lack of transparency of the information shared by citizens as feedback. Like the baseline PAR Monitor, administrations share almost no such information regarding five common administrative services. These include property, business, vehicle registration, obtaining personal documents, and VAT declaration and payment.

Still, some have just started publishing information in some areas – in Albania, for vehicle registration, and in Serbia, there is some basic data on the numbers of received and resolved complaints regarding registering businesses.

Overall, without transparency on feedback and how it is being used, citizen-oriented service delivery is hardly imaginable. Providing details on how users feel about services should become business as usual, but is, instead, lacking for the second monitoring cycle in a row. Overall, the PAR Monitor 2019/2020 has shown few major changes, and a certain level of backsliding in two countries.

[1] As in PAR Monitor 2017/2018, public perceptions on awareness of and usefulness of feedback mechanisms, and availability of feedback information to citizens, are measured through public perception surveys implemented in each of the Western Balkan countries in the same manner. Surveys were implemented in the period from the 5 to 30 May 2020.

The fifth meeting of the National Working Group for Public Administration Reform in BiH

On the Zoom platform, 22/7/2020 the fifth meeting of the National Working Group (NWG) for Public Administration Reform (PAR) within WeBER in BiH was held. This was the first meeting of the working group in Bosnia and Herzegovina within the new WeBER2.0 project. At the meeting, Mahir Sijamija, VPI BH Project Officer, announced and presented the new program of small grants for civil society organizations. After that, Anida Šabanović, director of VPI BH and Haris Ćutahija, researcher of VPI BH, held a presentation on the topic “European consultations with citizens: introduction and presentation of methods”. The meeting ended with a discussion on the implementation and priorities of public administration reform in Bosnia and Herzegovina and on the status and activities of civil society organizations involved.

The event brought together representatives of civil society, as well as experts in the field of public administration reform.

Meeting of the WeBER National Working Group for Public Administration Reform in Serbia was held

On Thursday, 16 July 2020, the fifth meeting of the WeBER National Working Group (NWG) for Public Administration Reform (PAR) in Serbia was held on the Zoom platform. This is the first meeting of the NWG for PAR in Serbia within the new WeBER2.0 project. The upcoming scheme of small grants facility for civil society organisations was discussed at this event, and researchers from the European Policy Centre (CEP) from Serbia presented the practice of citizens engagement through consultations and the methods of European consultations with citizens.

The members of the NWG were also introduced to the Loomio discussion platform, through which the participants of the meeting had an opportunity to discuss accommodation of the work on sectoral PAR mainstreaming in Serbia and the update of the PAR Resource Centre with new publications, as well as the upcoming call for new members of the NWGs. The plan is to use this platform for further consultations with members of each WeBER national working group in the Western Balkans.

The Western Balkans and the COVID-19: Effects on good governance, rule of law and civil society

This policy brief underscores outstanding issues that emerged during the COVID-19 crisis with possible long-term consequences on the functioning of democracy and rule of law in the six countries of the Western Balkans – Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia. This paper specifically addresses the impact of the crisis on the functioning of democratic institutions, the judiciary, fundamental rights and freedoms, transparency, civil society, and the media, and continues to assess its impact on the social and political climates in each country of the region. The report identifies country-specific as well as common issues that should be monitored closely going forward.

Download the brief here.

The-Western-Balkans-and-the-COVID-19-Effects-on-good-governance-rule-of-law-and-civil-society

The COVID-19 Pandemic in the Western Balkans: Effects on Democracy, Rule of Law, and Civil Society

9 June 2020 – Today, TEN members took part in the “COVID-19 Pandemic in the Western Balkans: Effects on Democracy, Rule of Law, and Civil Society” closed-door workshop organised by the Aspen Institute Germany. This workshop gathered members of the expert community from the EU and the region along with officials from the EU and its member states. As a basis for discussion, six TEN representatives presented a working paper which addressed some possible long-term effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on critical democratic principles and rule of law in the Western Balkans. The participants also discussed the way forward in the coming period, stressing the importance of empowering civil society, the media, and national parliaments in their watchdog functions and not neglecting women and vulnerable groups as those most affected by the ongoing pandemic. Insights from this discussion will contribute to the forthcoming TEN policy brief, which tackles the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the functioning of rule of law and democracy in the Western Balkans.

CSOs from Montenegro and Serbia call for the lowering of tensions

PODGORICA / BELGRADE – Candidates for the membership in the European Union should resolve the disputed issues in the spirit of regional cooperation, stated ten civil society organizations from Montenegro and Serbia, adding that it is necessary to urgently calm the tensions between the two countries.

In a joint statement, CSOs pointed out that, at a time when leading candidates for EU membership are expected to show stronger political leadership and credibility in fulfilling the commitments and values ​​on which the Union is based, calming the tensions between Serbia and Montenegro and ending the use of inflammatory and passionate speech in statements by officials of these countries is imperative.

The statement was signed by the Belgrade Centre for Security Policy (BCSP), Belgrade Fund for Political Excellence (BFPE), Centre for Contemporary Politics (CSP), European Policy Centre (CEP), International and Security Affairs Centre (ISAC), European Movement in Serbia (EPuS), Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights (YUCOM) from Serbia and Centre for Civil Liberties (CEGAS), the Institute Alternative (IA) and Politikon Network from Montenegro.

Civil society organizations have stressed that it is the duty of the leaders of both countries to show their readiness to resolve existing disputes through dialogue, instead of inciting low nationalist passions that may bring votes in the upcoming elections, but can have long-term and serious consequences.

“The responsibility lies with the officials of both countries, who should lay the foundations of the European path for all other countries of the Western Balkans, to act rationally and diplomatically when resolving disputed issues, respecting the sovereignty of both countries. We appeal for such issues to be resolved through a dialogue between representatives of relevant institutions in both countries, and not through statements by media officials,“ the statement said.