18th to 19th November 2019 – Grants with the value up to 5000 euro have been allocated to local civil society organisations (CSOs) under the “Prepare to Participate” project, realised by the European Policy Centre (CEP), National Alliance for Local Economic Development (NALED) and the Centre for Contemporary Politics – European Western Balkans.
Winners of the grants have been chosen on the basis of the quality of proposed projects, experience of the project team members and proportionate regional/thematic representation. Among 30 applicants the grants’ winners include: the CETRA from Pančevo, Economist Society of Niš, Res Publika from Kragujevac, Centre of Local Democracy (LDA) from Knjaževac, Efektiva organisation from Belgrade and the Organisation of Serbian Bidders from Kragujevac. Grants were allocated with the purpose of involving local CSOs in the negotiation process through working groups of the National Convention on the EU, dealing with economic aspect of the negotiation process.
Nataša Dragojlović, the Coordination of the National Convention on the EU, said that this part of the negotiations serves as the most difficult to monitor, however the capacities are the lowest.
“The most difficult for economic criteria is to find interlocutors outside academic circles”, said Dragoljović and added that the small number of CSOs is following this process, because researching is expensive and requires expensive expertise. She said that economic criteria for Serbia are one of the crucial ones in the process of Serbian integration with the EU. Therefore, it is important that everything that is going on can be brought closer to local communities.
“We want to raise awareness regarding the importance of economic aspects, to answer the questions concerning our economy, to strengthen capacities on the local scale and to deal with the issues that affect our lives. In particular, it is important for us to reach the media, since without them, especially the local ones, our analyses are not going to have any effects. Media can alarm the public about results of our analyses, without them our analyses remain in the circle of a handful of pundits, who already know about everything”, Dragojlović said.
The Centre for Education and Transparency (CETRA) presented a project called “Why the EU Economic Negotiation Chapters Are Important? – Towards a Better Understanding of the Southern Banat Region” with the aim that CSOs from the area of southern Banat can participate in the works of the National Convention on the EU. It can strengthen the visibility of economic aspects of Serbian accession negotiations to the EU in public media space of the southern Banat, with the focus on the following chapters: 16, 17, 20, 28 and 29.
Through the project “A Fair Play: With Competition to a Better Media Offer”, the Res Publika from Kragujevac is going to raise awareness of local social actors regarding significance of the protection of competition and the more transparent allocation of state aid in the area of public information in Kragujevac. Activities will focus on the research of fundaments according to which media in Kragujevac receive funds from the budget of the city of Kragujevac. Project aims to inform and involve the public as well.
The Efektiva Association from Belgrade, through the project “Against the Invisibility of the Consumer Protection Act” will conduct activities, which are related to the chapters 8 and 28, in order to improve the protection of consumer rights in Serbia in accordance with regulations of the Consumer Protection Law in its all segments. Efektiva presented an analysis on the situation in this area. It was stated that the Consumer Protection Law is being abused in practice and through bylaws by public enterprises, which provide communal services.
Through the project “Local Economic Monitor”, the Centre for Local Democracy (LDA) will contribute to building up of the capacity of local CSOs in the negotiation process and fulfilling economic criteria for the EU membership. Project activities will focus on the chapter 20 (local entrepreneurship development policy) and will be realised in ten municipalities and cities in northern and southeastern Serbia.
The Economist Society of Niš, which is already actively participating in the work of the National Convention on the EU, is going to conduct a project called: “Empowering CSOs for an Active Participation in Negotiations of Serbian Accession to the EU in the Area of Economic Policies” with the focus on the following chapters: 1, 8, 20, 28, 29. Activities will be realised in the area of Nišava administrative county.
Through the project: “Mechanisms for the Improvement of the Competition in Public Procurement in the EU Accession Process”, Organisation of Serbian Bidders will endeavour to increase the competition in market, bids in the public procurement process and rational use of budget in the area of Šumadija and Western Serbia.
The day after signing the contract, there were organised workshops on the topic of project management, which are financed from the EU budget and PRAG principles, together with financial and narrative reporting and new principles on visibility and observation of projects.
This project is financed by the EU Delegation to Serbia as the part of Civil Society and Media Support, which aims to strengthen participatory democracies and projects of the EU integration through empowering civil society to actively participate in decision-making processes.