• Third Regional “Citizens First” Conference

    Better administration through citizen consultation

    For over 20 years, the Western Balkan countries have been going through the democratisation and transition process, embarking on deep structural, economic and social reforms to modernise their societies and improve the lives of their citizens. Although a lot has changed in the past 20 years regarding public administrations, there is still plenty of work left so that the Region’s citizens can enjoy the same level of effectiveness and transparency that exists in the countries of the European Union.

    This “Citizens First” Conference is the third in a series of biennial regional conferences focusing on citizens and civil societies as partners and contributors in the design and monitoring of public administration reforms (PAR) in the Western Balkans, as part of the region’s EU integration path.

    These conferences aim to enhance and broaden the dialogue on creating and implementing inclusive and transparent PAR policies that meet citizens’ needs. We believe that, for governments to be motivated to change, it is necessary to increase the bottom-up demand for better administration in the Region, which will (coupled with the top-down requirements of the EU accession process) contribute to the sustainability of administrative reforms to the benefit of the citizens.

    This year, the Conference’s main topic is bringing the administration closer to the citizens based on the experiences from citizens’ consultations implemented at the local level across the region, using EU good practice in implementing European Citizen Consultations. We want to voice and address citizens’ concerns and impressions from their experiences with the administrations in the Region and try to provide recommendations for decision-makers to improve the services their institutions offer to the citizens. Moreover, the Conference promotes CSO-government dialogue at the regional, national, and local levels and supports constructive relationships between CSOs and public authorities.

    • One of the main parts of the Conference will be the presentation of WeBER2.0 local grantees’ projects, who will show what impact they have achieved in their municipalities.
    • The spotlight discussion on the first conference day will be dedicated to participatory democracy and lessons learned from citizens consultations held in the European Union, with reflections on how these experiences can be used in the Western Balkan reform context.
    • The WeBER research team will present the brand-new PAR Monitor results for 2021/2022 and discuss them with national and regional stakeholders, comparing progress made since the previous cycles, with the reflection on how to overcome reform challenges in the region and grasp the benefits of a citizen-friendly approach to reform.
    • As part of the implementation of local small grants, our local partner organisations recorded  shortvideo stories where citizens discussed their positive and negative experiences with public services. A regional video extracting the best stories from each of the countries will be shown as part of the conference.
    • As part of WeBER2.0, citizens recorded short video stories where they discussed their problems and praise for public services – a regional video extracting the best stories from each of the countries will be shown as part of the conference.
    • Since March 2021, more than 6,000 citizens from the entire Western Balkans talked about their (dis)satisfaction with service delivery with us via online portals and street actions. The analysis of this kind of citizen feedback will also be presented.

    The Conference is organised by the European Policy Centre – CEP (Belgrade). The Conference will bring together esteemed experts and representatives of the government sector, regional initiatives and civil society organisations that work on the different areas of public administration reform in the Western Balkans. The format of the Conference will depend on the conditions and development of the situation with the COVID-19 pandemic, but we will do our best to gather live as many people as possible.

    If you are interested to participate, please send an e-mail to secretariat@thinkforeurope.org

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