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Policymaking in the Western Balkans: Creating Demand for Evidence Beyond EU Conditionality

Policymaking in the Western BalkansEU aspirants from the Western Balkans find themselves in a lengthy and demanding process of improving their policymaking systems. Sustainable results require not only robust tools and procedures, but also the involvement of all interested parties – civil society, media, interest groups and associations – into policymaking. However, policymaking as a topic is under-researched and its relevance somewhat underestimated both by the state and the civil society actors in the region. This Position Paper presents arguments to highlight the necessity for more streamlined engagement of the civil society to act as effective scrutinisers of policymaking reforms as well as to take a more constructive role in policymaking processes, consequently rendering it more transparent and evidence-based.

The Position Paper is made under the CEPS WeB project, whose aim was to create a Centre for Excellence within the institutional framework provided by the Think for Europe Network (TEN). The project is financed under the framework of the Regional Research Promotion Programme (RRPP).

The Position Paper can be accessed here.

Gender mainstreaming of Public Policies in Serbia - a case for (light) optimism?

Evolution of gender mainstreamingThe persistence of gender inequality and continued discrimination of women has led to the adoption of the National Strategy for Gender Equality in 2016, which recognises gender mainstreaming as a tool for fighting discrimination through the (re)organisation, improvement, development and evaluation of policy processes. An essential element of the new Strategy is gender impact assessment or in other words gender analysis of policies, measures and programmes. In parallel, policymaking reform is a part of the EU accession process and public administration reform whose central part is adoption of the new law on policymaking – the Law on Planning System - and a set of by-laws that will regulate in detail the policy system management. However, the present draft Law does not contain any provisions on gender assessment of policies.

Policy brief discusses the importance of ensuring that the new Law on the Planning System contains a provision that will explicitly stipulate the obligation for state institutions to conduct gender impact assessment and offers very concrete policy recommendations for policy makers. 

The policy brief is available here.

Demanding Open Data in Serbia: Role of Think Tanks and Research Based Civil Society Organisations

Who Demands Open Data in Serbia?

Demanding Open Data in SerbiaThis study deals with open data demand created by civil society organisations (CSOs) in the context of the limited supply of open data in Serbia. On one hand, it demonstrates that civil society interest in open data is currently restricted to a particular niche of CSOs. On the other, it points to the potentials of open data for think tanks and other CSOs conducting research, not only in terms of better monitoring of government performance but also in diversifying their own research methodologies, improving their evidence-based advocacy efforts, and enhancing the ‘data light’ research environment in Serbia in the long-term. Additionally, this paper argues that cross-sector collaboration between these CSOs and media, academic, and private sector stakeholders, as well as the tech community, could increase open data demand and enhance related efforts in Serbia.

However, all these potentials for open data and CSOs are also dependent upon the further involvement of the donor community, which needs to recognize the value of open data in the Serbian context, as well as invest in analytical and technical capacities of CSOs needed to properly handle open data.

The study is available here.

Protected Areas in Vojvodina: Status and Funding in the Context of European Integration (in Serbian)

Zaštićena područja u VojvodiniWhat is the current state of Vojvodina’s nature? How are nature protection areas regulated and financed? What are the challenges and opportunities with regard to the EU integration process? The new study addresses these questions and more, and provides a set of anwers as well as recommendations for better nature protection in line with the EU standards.

The study was developed within „Banatska platforma“ project, which was implemented by the Ecological Centre Habitat in cooperation with the European Policy Centre (CEP), organization Agroznanje and several other organizations gathered within the regional network Banatska platforma (the Banat Platform). The project and the study are financially supported by the Open Society Fund, Serbia. 

The study is available in Serbian here.

Competition Policy in Serbia - What is the Problem?

Competition policy in SerbiaThe aim of the study is to explore the current state of competition policy in Serbia, identify and consider the key obstacles and shortcomings that hinder the full and adequate implementation of the rules of competition protection, and to make recommendations for improvement of competition policy. The recommendations are primarily intended for decision makers in competition policy and legislation, as well as for those who are responsible for the proper implementation of the legal framework. The study is focused on the rules of the competition and their application, while the state aid control section is included to the extent necessary for the understanding of its importance in the context of a functioning system in line with EU standards.

Policy Study is available here.

Policy Brief is available in Serbian here. (English translation will be provided soon)

Performance Audit and Policy Evaluation in the Western Balkans: On the Same or Parallel Tracks?

performance audit and policy evaluationFrom a conceptual perspective, performance audit and policy evaluation are very close fields, with highly converging goals, methods and tools. At the same time, in the Western Balkans these two fields have been evolving without connection and reference to each other. How can the two processes be brought closer together in the three studied WB countries – Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia – with a view to ensure efficiencies and synergic development of these rather novel performance management instrument?

The study is the final product of a research project which lasted over twelve months. The project “Performance Audit and Policy Evaluation: On the Same or Parallel Tracks?” is implemented in the framework of the Regional Research Promotion Programme in the Western Balkans (RRPP) with financial support of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).

Policy Study is available for download here.

Policy Briefs are available in EnglishSerbianMontenegrin and Macedonian.

EU Agri-food Quality Schemes and Potential Benefits for the Registration of PGIs and PDOs for Serbian Agricultural Products and Foodstuffs in the Prospect of EU Negotiations

EU Agri-food Quality SchemesThe main objective of this policy paper is to examine different aspects of EU agri-food quality schemes, developed for products with specific characteristics resulting from a particular origin, special ingredients or farming and production methods. The purpose of this paper is to examine in depth different aspects of this European policy and identify potential benefits for Serbian agri-food producers in applying it. Special attention will therefore be dedicated to assessment of Serbian state of affairs in regards, as well as to the opportunities that are now more present, due to the advancement of Serbia’s negotiations with EU.

Since many economic findings show, the registration of Protected Designation of Origin (PDO), Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) and Traditional Speciality Guaranteed (TSG) usually results in the higher ability of producers to compete in the market, the paper will attempt to explore the opportunities and problems that the registration of regional and traditional products may bring to the Serbia’s local agrifood production system.

The policy paper is available here.

Implementation of the Environmental Impact Assessment in Serbia in the EU Integration Context: Current State and Recommendations

Implementation of the Environmental Impact Assessment in Serbia in the EU Integration ContextWithin the EU integration process, Serbia has to comply with the minimum EU standards pertaining to environmental assessment of industrial and infrastructural projects, as well as planning documents. These procedures are of immense importance for prevention and reduction of adverse environmental effects connected with human activities. What are the existing institutional solutions and capacities of the public administration with regard to implementation of the environmental assessments? To what extent does the public participate in the procedure? Is the implementation of the environmental assessments in Serbia in compliance with the EU standards? Based on comprehensive analysis, with a focus on environmental assessment of projects at the local level, the study provides answers to these and other related questions and also provides recommendations for further improvements of the procedures.

The study was conducted within the project “Think-Act-Impact”, jointly implemented by the European Policy Centre in Belgrade, the Ecological Centre “Habitat” and the association of citizens  Serbia on the Move. Project is financially supported by the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Belgrade and co-financed by the Ministry of Agriculture and Environmental Protection of the Government of Republic of Serbia.

The study is available here nad the policy brief here.

Between Discretion and Professionalism: Merit-based Recruitment Policy in the Context of Serbia's Accession Negotiations with the EU

Between Discretion and ProfessionalismThe study identifies the key deficiencies of Serbian civil service system seen from the perspective of the accession process, with the particular focus on the recruitment policy.
The research has found that significant turnover of the civil servants, insufficient number of experts in specialised fields, the outflow of young civil servants and the lack of an essential understanding of European integration related affairs by managers at the political level, represent some of the problems which affect the Serbian public administration. Accession negotiations-related tasks, which concern the entire state administration, and not only the specific units in the ministries, are an impetus for sustainable public administration reforms which must remain the goal regardless of the outcome of the negotiations process. Noting the limits of the implementation of a legal framework in the area of recruitment policy, the study develops three possible options for improving the quality of human resources in state administration.
Download the study in English and French language.

Civil Society and Government: Participatory Policy Formulation in Serbia

Civil Society and Government - Participatory Policy Formulation in SerbiaUp to this point, the issue of a systemic approach to civil society participation in the process of policy making in Serbia has not been resolved. In its last Progress Report, the European Commission notes that "civil society is a crucial component of any democratic system and should be recognized and treated as such by the state institutions". Notably, the EU has leverage to emphasize civil society participation mainly in relation to the accession process. Beyond this sphere, the resources and expertise of the civil society should be recognized and taken advantage of by the government and other public institutions. This is supported by the increasing complexity of the course of reforms, the challenge of legislative harmonization, and the lack of human capacity in the public administration as part of the EU integration process. In this regard, substantial effort needs to be invested to assure an evidence basis from the beginning of the planning of a policy, which is the basis of a sound and comprehensive reform.

Policy paper can be downloaded here.

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