Building Strategic Framework for  Government - Civil Society Cooperation in Legislation Process in Croatia
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Building Strategic Framework for Government - Civil Society Cooperation in Legislation Process in Croatia

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Dialogue Forum on Civil Society in Turkey and the EU ...

Dialogue Forum on Civil Society in Turkey and the EU
15 November 2013 in Istanbul

Vesna Lendić Kasalo
Croatian Government Office
for Cooperation with NGO's

More in: News & Politics
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  • OECD Handbook on Information, Consultation and Public Participation in Policy-making is a practitioner’s guide designed for use by government officials in OECD Member and non-member countries. It offers a practical “road map” for building robust frameworks for informing, consulting and engaging citizens during policy-making. The Handbook recognizes the great diversity of country contexts, objectives and measures in strengthening government-citizen relations.
    Although the organization and functioning of domestic politics and public administration, including the national consultation processes, is no formal competence of the European Union, systematic involvement of the interested public in policy-making is generally considered to be good practice within the EU, and is of fundamental importance for delivering the ambitious EU strategic objectives.
    By establishing a consultation process, the Commission is encouraging the participation of external interested parties in the development of European policies. Starting the consultation at an early stage in the legislative procedure helps to improve the effectiveness of policies whilst reinforcing the involvement of interested parties and the general public.
    In addition, the Council of Europe adopted a Code that defines at European level a set of general principles, guidelines, tools and mechanisms for civil participation in the political decision-making process at local, regional and national level, and aims to contribute to the creation of an enabling environment for civil society organizations and citizens’ empowerment in Council of Europe member States
  • Consulting in context attributed by the Code fits in a broader concept of the public stakeholders’ participation in the decision making procedures. The involvement of NGOs in the different steps of the political decision-making process varies based on the intensity of participation. There are four gradual levels of participation, from least to most participative. These are:
    1. Information
    Access to information is the basis for all subsequent steps in the involvement of NGOs in the political decision-making process. This is a relatively low level of participation which usually consists of a one-way provision of information from the public authorities and no interaction or involvement with NGOs is required or expected. Information is relevant for all steps in the decision-making process.
    2. Consultation
    This is a form of initiative where the public authorities ask NGOs for their opinion on a specific policy topic or development. Consultation usually includes the authorities informing NGOs of current policy developments and asking for comments, views and feed-back. The initiative and themes originate with the public authorities, not with the NGOs. Consultation is relevant for all steps of the decision-making process, especially for drafting, monitoring and reformulation.
    3. Dialogue
    The initiative for dialogue can be taken by either party and can be either broad or collaborative. A broad dialogue is a two-way communication built on mutual interests and potentially shared objectives to ensure a regular exchange of views. It ranges from open public hearings to specialized meetings between NGOs and public authorities. A collaborative dialogue is built on mutual interests for a specific policy development. The collaborative dialogue usually leads to a joint recommendation, strategy or legislation.
    4. Partnership
    A partnership implies shared responsibilities in each step of the political decision-making process from agenda setting, drafting, decision and implementation of policy initiatives. It is the highest form of participation.
    At this level NGOs and the public authorities come together for a close cooperation while ensuring that the NGOs continue to be independent and have the right to campaign and act irrespective of a partnership situation. Partnership can include activities such as delegation of a specific task to an NGO, for example delivery of services, as well as participatory forums and the establishment of co-decision-making bodies, including for resource allocation. Partnership may take place at all steps of the political decision-making process and is particularly relevant at the agenda setting or implementation steps.
  • Your Voice in Europe has been set up in the con­text of the Inter­active Policy Making initiative. As part of the Commission’s Mini­mum Standards on Con­sul­ta­tionpdf, it aims at im­prov­ing Euro­pean gover­nancepdf and intro­ducing Better Regulationpdf.
  • Since the Croatia joined the EU on 1st July 2013, the EESC has 353 Members who are appointed for a term of five years. The current mandate runs from October 2010 till September 2015, and the Members elect the Committee's Presidency each time for a period of 2,5 years.
    European Economic and Social Committee is a bridge betwwen Europe and civil society
    Croatia has nine members, and 3 of them are revresentatives of Croatian NGOs.
    3 – representatives of trade ubions
    3 – representatives of Croatian Employers' Associations
  • European institutions interaction with citizen’s associations, NGOs, businesses, trade and professional organizations, trade unions, think tanks, etc. is constant, legitimate and necessary for the quality of democracy, for their capacity to deliver adequate policies, matching needs and reality.
    Citizens have a right to expect this process to be transparent and to take place in compliance with the law as well as in due respect of ethical principles, avoiding undue pressure, illegitimate or privileged access to information or to decision makers.
    That is why the Transparency register has been set up.
    It provides citizens with a direct and single access to information about who is engaged in activities aiming at influencing the EU decision making process, which interests are being pursued and what level of resources are invested in these activities.
  • Code of Conduct
    In their relations with the EU institutions and their Members, officials and other staff, registrants shall:
    always identify themselves by name and by the entity or entities they work for or represent; declare the interests, objectives or aims promoted and, where applicable, specify the clients or members whom they represent;
    not obtain or try to obtain information, or any decision, dishonestly, or by use of undue pressure or inappropriate behaviour;
    not claim any formal relationship with the EU or any of its institutions in their dealings with third parties, nor misrepresent the effect of registration in such a way as to mislead third parties or officials or other staff of the EU;
    ensure that, to the best of their knowledge, information which they provide upon registration and subsequently in the framework of their activities within the scope of the register is complete, up-to-date and not misleading;
    not sell to third parties copies of documents obtained from any EU institution;
    not induce Members of the EU institutions, officials or other staff of the EU, or assistants or trainees of those Members, to contravene the rules and standards of behaviour applicable to them;
    if employing former officials or other staff of the EU or assistants or trainees of Members of the EU institutions, respect the obligation of such employees to abide by the rules and confidentiality requirements which apply to them;
    observe any rules laid down on the rights and responsibilities of former Members of the European Parliament and the European Commission;
    inform whomever they represent of their obligations towards the EU institutions;
    Individuals representing or working for entities which have registered with the European Parliament with a view to being issued with a personal, non-transferable badge affording access to the European Parliament’s premises shall:
    comply strictly with the provisions of Rule 9 of, and Annex X and the second paragraph of Article 2 of Annex I to, the European Parliament’s Rules of Procedure;
    satisfy themselves that any assistance provided in the context of Article 2 of Annex I to the European Parliament's Rules of Procedure is declared in the appropriate register;
    in order to avoid possible conflicts of interest, obtain the prior consent of the Member or Members of the European Parliament concerned as regards any contractual relationship with or employment of a Member's assistant, and subsequently declare this in the register
  • Glavna svrha savjetovanja i uključivanja svih sudionika jest prikupljanje informacija o njihovim interesima, stavovima, prijedlozima i interesima vezanima uz određenu javnu politiku, kako bi se podigla razina razumijevanja i prihvaćanja ciljeva politike, ali i radi uočavanja dosad neprepoznatih slabosti i negativnih učinaka javne politike koje treba pravovremeno otkloniti. Vlada se savjetuje sa zainteresiranom javnošću kako bi u razvoju politika osigurala svoju informiranost o širokom nizu iskustava, različitih pristupa te uzima u obzir utjecaj prijedloga na različite sektore društva. Za predstavnike zainteresirane javnosti, organizacije civilnog društva, nevladine, neprofitne organizacije, savjetovanje predstavlja priliku da svojim znanjem, iskustvom i stručnošću utječu na Vladinu politiku u ime skupina i interesa koje zastupaju. One bi trebale biti spremne ponuditi Vladi svoje savjete, temeljene na objektivnom iskustvu i odgovarajućem savjetovanju s osobama s kojima rade. Time se stvara i održava kredibilitet organizacija civilnog društva kao vrijednog izvora relevantnih stručnih mišljenja.
  • The drafting of the Code of Practice on Consultation with the Interested Public in Procedures of Adopting Laws, other Regulations and Acts was initiated in June 2007, in accordance with obligations deriving from the objectives of the National Strategy for the Creation of an Enabling Environment for Civil Society Development 2006-2011 (adopted in July 2006) and its Operational Implementation Plan.
    Better framework for dialogue between government and interested public in shaping new public policies was regarded as essential component of building more favourable environment for development of independent and vibrant civil society. Following extensive public debates on improving standards of consultation and continuing pressure from CSOs, the development of the Code of practice on consultation was introduced as one of the priority measures within the Action plan of the Strategy of Combating Corruption (which was adopted by the Government in June 2008).
    Strengthening proactive transparency and designing more open and inclusive policy making processes was recognized as important preventive tool in fight against corruption.
    Besides, the elaboration of the model of consultations on proposals of programs, laws and other regulations with NGOs and the public was recognized as one of the important activities planned within the Strategy of Reform of State Administration 2008-2011.
  • The process of drafting the proposal of the Code was inclusive and participatory. Representatives of civil society organizations were given the opportunity to give their inputs regarding the content of the Code, through various public debates organized by the Government Office for Cooperation with NGOs and Council for Civil Society Development.
    The Government adopted the Code of practice on consultation with the interested public in procedures of adopting laws, other regulations and acts on November 2009. as a direct consequence of its being part of Anti-Corruption Action plan that was regularly monitored by the European Commission, but also the result of intensive advocacy efforts by the CSOs through the Council for Civil Society Development.
    In 2012 (October ) the Government adopted amendments to its Rules of procedure and with these amendments public consultation and reporting on the results of consultations are recognized as inevitable part of the process of decision making on national level.
    Central state administration bodies are obliged upon sending to the Government’s procedure draft proposals of laws, other regulations and acts to enclose related reports on the outcomes of the conducted consultation (with explanatory memorandum on why certain contributions were not accepted). By these amendments to its Rules of Procedures, the Government has carried out the measures to which it was obliged by the Open Government Partnership Action Plan and the National Strategy for the Creation of an Enabling Environment for Civil Society Development 2012-2016.
    In February 2013, Croatian Parliament adopted the new Law on Access to Information which secure more systematic progress in the area of proactive transparency, openness and conducting meaningful stakeholder consultations at all levels of public administration.
  • Minimum standards of consultation with the interested public
    timely information about the plan for enactment of laws and adoption of other regulations and acts;
    Easy access to and clarity of the content of the consultation process;
    the time limit for the implementation of Internet and other forms of consultations,
    feedback information about the effects of the consultations conducted;
    harmonization of the application of standards and measures of conducting consultations in state bodies
    Like in most other countries that adopted similar acts, the Code does not have legally binding character.
    However, in order to ensure the harmonized and effective application of the adopted standards and measures by state bodies, the closing provisions of the Code, as well as the subsequent strategic and policy documents, foresee four important instruments. These are:
    the drafting and adoption of the detailed Guidelines for the implementation of the Code of practice on consultation,
    appointment of consultation coordinators in ministries and government offices,
    development and implementation of training programmes and peer-to-peer support for consultation coordinators,
    regular monitoring the implementation of the Code through producing annual reports.
    In the meantime, GOfCNGOs organized monthly meetings with all consultation coordinators in order to enable regular exchange information and peer-to-peer support in conducting public consultations and raising awareness within the ministries and government offices.
    Also, on GOfCNGOs website there is a special page on consultation, which serves as focal point for interested public searching for information on all open/closed public consultations of state administration bodies.
  • GOfCNGOs is responsible for preparing annual reports on the implementation of the Code of practice on consultation with the interested public in procedures of adopting laws, other regulations and acts. During 2012, significant improvements have been done regarding the implementation of the Code. The online communication team of Croatian Government kept promoting the implementation of the Code and informing the wider public on all open consultations via dynamic Government social networks profiles.
    All ministries have developed special web pages dedicated to public consultations and begun using a variety of consultation methods, while practices on reporting on public consultation results have also started improving. The diversification of consultation methods turned out to be particularly important for reaching out to wide range of organizations and preventing the predominant influence of any interest group in policy making process.
    The latest report for 2012 shows substantial progress in implementing the Code by the new Government. The number of laws, other regulations and acts that have undergone public consultations increased to 144 which is a radical improvement, compared to only 48 in 2011, and 30 in 2010. In addition, compared to only 173 written contributions by the interested public in 2011, various ministries and government offices received 4773 written contributions to draft legal initiatives during 2012.
    It is worth mentioning that reports on consultation results were published for 76 acts, which is encouraging progress given almost non-existent practice of feedback to the public in previous years.
  • In conclusion, several main lessons learned could be drawn from Croatian experience in formulating and implementing new standards of institutionalizing public consultations in policy making processes. These could be summarized in three key points:
    strong political will and policy coordination capacities in structural and functional terms,
    diversification of consultation methods (social networks, open internet consultations, public meetings, open space, etc), and finally,
    feedback to the public as essential tool for confidence building

Transcript

  • 1. Building Strategic Framework for Government - Civil Society Cooperation in Legislation Process in Croatia Vesna Lendić Kasalo Croatian Government Office for Cooperation with NGOs
  • 2. Croatia - four pillars of effective Government - civil society cooperation 1. Structures for State - CSOs cooperation 2. Strategic documents & legal framework 3. Sustainable funding of CSOs’ programmes 4. Standards of consultation in policy making
  • 3. Structures for supporting State - CSOs cooperation – 15 years of efforts  Government Office for Cooperation with CSOs (1998)  Council for Civil Society Development (2002)  National Foundation for Civil Society Development (2003)  Regional support networks of CSOs (since 2006)  Regional foundations (since 2006)
  • 4. Government Office for Cooperation with CSOs Coordinating Government Policy on Creating Enabling Environment for Civil Society Development: • implementation of National Strategy • public funding policy coordination • improving standards of public consultation • training of civil servants on CSO cooperation • implementation body for EU funds for CSOs
  • 5. Council for Civil Society Development
  • 6. How the Council works? • Regular and thematic meetings • Own initiative opinions and statements on draft laws, national programmes and plans regarding civil society development in the widest sense • President elected among Council members from NGO representatives • Administrative and expert support provided by the Office for cooperation with NGOs • Role in programming priorities for EU funding
  • 7. The National Foundation for Civil Society Development • Public foundation established by the Parliament • Operational grants, CSO capacity building, training, research, awareness-raising • Regional foundations – local community building - decentralization of public funding ‘’Bringing money where needs already exist” • Regional CSO support networks - NGOs networks on local level providing capacity building for smaller and newly formed NGOs
  • 8. Strategic documents & legal framework Croatian National Strategy for Creating Enabling Environment for CSOs 2012-2016  broad consensus among civil society, government and business representatives about the strategic priorities until 2016
  • 9. National Strategy 2012-2016 • developed through one year consultation process • different forms of involvement over 200 CSOs and interested public in the consultation process:  working groups  public debates  online consultation • common platform that brings together key stakeholders vital for creating conditions for sustainability of an independent and vibrant civil society: http://strategija.uzuvrh.hr/
  • 10. Sustainable funding of CSOs programmes and projects main principles: • transparency of funding procedures • diversification of funding mechanisms • ensuring operating grants for CSOs • supporting small grass-roots initiatives
  • 11. Transparency of procedures of funding of CSOs programmes and projects • Code of Good Practice of Public Funding of CSOs (adopted by Parliament in 2007) • Data on all grants accessible on: www.uzuvrh.hr • Coordination meetings (and training seminars) for public officials at all levels (national and local) • Annual Info days – debates on forthcoming calls for funding CSOs programmes
  • 12. Diversification of public funding    decentralized system of public funding (20 government bodies funding CSOs: 70-90 calls annually) State budget 50% of lottery revenues – for financing the programs of the organizations who: o o o o o o o o    Promote the development of sports, Contribute to the fight against narcotics abuse and all other forms of addiction, Engage in social and humanitarian work, Engage in problems and the fulfillment of the needs of disabled persons, Engage in technical education, Engage in culture, Engage in non-institutional education of children and youth, Contribute to the development of a civil society. regional and local government funding (21 counties, 129 cities, 429 municipalities) National Foundation – operating grants regional networks and foundations – promoting philanthropy at local level
  • 13. Coordination of Public Funding Local Budgets State Budget and Lottery Revenues State Budget and Lottery Revenues Indirect Funding Direct Funding
  • 14. Public consultations – key for effective policy formulation and implementation • Citizens as Partners - OECD Handbook on Information, Consultation and Public Participation in Policy-making (2001) • European Commission - General principles and minimum standards for consultation of interested parties by the Commission (2002) • Council of Europe - Code of Good Practice for Civil Participation in the Decision-Making Process (2009)
  • 15. Levels and dimensions of public participation
  • 16. EU practice on consultation
  • 17. Office for cooperation with NGOs
  • 18. Office for cooperation with NGOs
  • 19. Office for cooperation with NGOs
  • 20. Code of conduct of representatives of interested public Office for cooperation with NGOs
  • 21. Multiple benefits of consultations  meet legal obligations  collection of data, ideas and opinions  free expertise  innovation  transparency  efficiency adoption  legitimacy and support policy  control over information and messages in the media  division of responsibility for decision-making  development of a democratic culture  prevention of public criticism of the closure and exclusion  timely detection of potential problems in the implementation of regulations
  • 22. Policy framework for public consultations • National Strategy for the Creation of an Enabling Environment for Civil Society Development 20062011 (July 2006) • Strategy of Reform of State Administration 20082011 (March 2008) • Action plan of the Strategy of Combating Corruption (June 2008)
  • 23. Introducing new standards of public consultations in policy making • Code of Practice on Consultation with the Interested Public in Procedures of Adopting Laws, Other Regulations and Acts (November 2009) • National Strategy for Creating Enabling Environment for CSOs 2012-2016 - measures for strengthening capacities of civil servants for effective involvement of CSOs and interested public in policy formulation and implementation (July 2012) • Government Rules of Procedures - amended to institutionalize practice of feedback on consultation results in accordance with the Code (October 2012) • Law on Access to information – proactive transparency and publishing consultation documents (February 2013) • Constitutional Court decisions
  • 24. Putting in practice new public consultation standards • Consultation coordinators appointed in all ministries and government offices • Training programmes and peer-to-peer support for consultation coordinators - State School for Public Administration • Coordination meetings of consultation coordinators – peer to peer support and exchange of best practices • Government Office website – a page on consultation - focal point for interested public searching for information on all open/closed public consultations of state administration bodies • Annual reports - Monitoring the implementation of the Code
  • 25. Detailed step-by-step Guidelines on implementing the Code Detailed Guidelines for implementing the Code of practice on consultation (2010) the question is not why but rather how to conduct meaningful public consultation  all ministries – standardized public consultation web page  standardized forms for gathering contributions from the interested public  standardized forms for reporting on the results of public consultation
  • 26. 10 steps towards effective consultation process 1. Identify the key issues on which you want to get the answer in the consultation process 2. Determine which stakeholders have high interest or influence in relation to the topic 3. Select the appropriate method of consultation (innovative „open space”, public discussion, working groups, online consultations, social networks etc.) 4. Publish a call to the interested public to participate in consultation 5. Proactively inform key stakeholders about possibilities for participation
  • 27. 10 steps towards effective consultation process 6. Confirm receipt of comments, say thank you and announce the next steps 7. Publish comments received in the public consultation online 8. Analyse comments received in the public consultation 9. Publish a report on the results of the consultation 10.Inform all participants in the consultation on the report released
  • 28. Annual reports - Monitoring the implementation of the Code • Substantial progress in 2012 – consultations conducted for 144 acts (compared to 48 in 2011, and 30 in 2010) • For 27 acts (out of 144) public consultations lasted less than 15 days • 4773 written contributions from interested public (compared to 173 in 2011) • reports on consultation results published for 76 acts
  • 29. Increasing number of structures for civil dialogue • more than 100 Government advisory bodies (including Council for Civil Society Development) involving more then 800 representatives of CSOs • 25 Parliament working committees involving more than 100 representatives of CSOs • Increasing number of local charters of cooperation between CSOs and local governments
  • 30. Methods of consultation in practice • Good practice example: – Development of National Strategy for the Creation of an Enabling Environment for Civil Society Development 2012-2016 – Consultations during the process of monitoring the implementation of strategic documents http://strategija.uzuvrh.hr/ – Consultations on new Law on Associations
  • 31. Lessons learned and challenges • Importance of political will and policy coordination capacities in structural and functional terms • Diversification of consultation methods (social networks, open internet consultations, public meetings, open space, etc) • Feedback to the public - essential for confidence building • Implementation and development of practice of consultation on local levels (method of empty chair)
  • 32. Contacts: Office for Cooperation with NGOs Government of the Republic of Croatia Email: info@uzuvrh.hr www.uzuvrh.hr