September 19, 2017 – The European Policy Centre (CEP), in cooperation with Open Government Partnership (OGP), held a consultative meeting titled “Open Government – Achievements and Challenges”. The goal of this meeting, which was held at the Human Rights House, was the outlining of current achievements and challenges in implementing reforms in six important areas for open government: public participation, access to information, open data, government integrity, fiscal transparency and public services.
In her opening remarks, Milena Lazarević, CEP Programme Director, reminded the participants about the importance of the OGP. Furthermore, she added that CEP will pursue a role of an “active observer”, following and reporting Serbia’s progress regarding commitments towards the Partnership.
Katarina Kosmina, CEP Researcher, highlighted the fact that the process if improving administrative transparency requires consistent cooperation and constructive dialogue between civil society representatives and government institutions.
Nemanja Nenadić, Transparency Serbia Programme Director, opened the debate and provided a detailed view into the process that awaits the Serbian government in their pursuit of transparency. Moreover, he warned that access to information could be limited at any moment, despite acknowledging that Serbia has been experiencing a period of liberalization in this area. Additionally, he concluded that threats of terrorism and security do not provide sufficient grounds for restraining these liberties.
Dragana Bajić, CEP Junior Research, briefly presented Serbia’s current situation, plans, and OGP commitments in important areas of open governanment. Afterwards, Dragana organised small discussion groups, each representing an area of reforms. By gathering civil society representatives, from national and local levels, this meeting enabled a dynamic discussion and an assessment of the current state of transparency across Serbia.
Given that the aforementioned areas are part of the Action Plan (AP) for the implementation of OGP initiative (2016-2017), currently being implanted by the Serbia government, this event served as a forum. Both civil society and government officials could use this meeting to craft independent reports about the implementation of the AP.
The main purpose of the OGP is to provide channels for governments to implement their commitments for AP’s. By doing that, OGP’s enable governments to achieve satisfactory levels of transparency, fight corruption, and use new technologies for the betterment of administration. In Serbia, CEP functions as an Independent Reporting Mechanism (IRM). Within the framework of this initiative, the IRM evaluates the development and implementation of national AP’s. Consequently, prompting dialogue between interested sides and strengthening responsibility.