Impact of EU enlargement on neighbouring countries (benefits, opportunities and challenges)
IMPACT OF EU ENLARGEMENT ON NEIGHBORINGCOUNTRIES (BENEFITS, OPPORTUNITIES ANDCHALLENGES)
Enterprises in Balkan countries are having problems with administrationand red tape in all countries. Corruption is continuously ranked amongthe major challenges.Despite the positive efforts of establishing regulatory and institutionalbase for fighting corruption, including specialised anti-corruptionagencies, which are being introduced in the majority of the countries inthe region, significant problems persists, especially with regard to thepractical implementation of the existing legal framework andinstitutional enforcement.
Though it is hard to generalise in the context of the different nationalhistorical and institutional environments in the South-East Europeancountries, several underlying issues seem to draw a distinct picture ofthe major corruption problems in the region.Political pressure continues to influence the institutional environment,which is especially problematic with regard to the work of judicialsystem and the national anti-corruption agencies.However, regional cooperation in the Western Balkans is central to theEU Enlargement strategy. Next to the importance of governmentaldialogue and collaboration in the SEE region, CSO cooperation isessential.
EU ACCESSION PERSPECTIVEThere is an increased understanding within the EU about theimportance of anti-corruption efforts, and there are a number ofprovisions in the existing EU instruments that deal with the issue. Anti-corruption considerations are part of the political criteria for accession,part of the SAA, reflected in regular Progress Reports, and are includedin the list of recommendations of the European Partnership, amongothers.From the other side, countries must be able to demonstrate that theycan absorb and manage EU funds successfully, and there are a numberof internal and external audit mechanisms that assure that this is takingplace.
WHERE WE ARE – TI CPI?The Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) ranks countries and territoriesbased on how corrupt their public sector is perceived to be. A countryor territory’s score indicates the perceived level of public sectorcorruption on a scale of 0 - 100, where 0 means that a country isperceived as highly corrupt and 100 means it is perceived as very clean.A countrys rank indicates its position relative to the other countries andterritories included in the index. This years index includes 176 countriesand territories.
Business climate is very much influenced by politics, and there is notransparency in procedures related to doing business, especially withthe public sector. Transparency of political party funding is anothermajor challenge in many SEE countries, which aids the presence ofstrong external economic influence, where private interests are beingallowed to affect the course of governance.Lack of transparency in managing and distributing State finances, mainlywith regard to public procurement contracts, is also a significantargument for corruption allegations. Conflicts of interest and integrityconcerns give further ground for the overall lack of public trust. Thesecore issues render the existence of legal and institutional frameworkagainst corruption inefficient.The business environment is affected !!!
EXAMPLESSpatial planning, energy, and other corruption challenges inMontenegroIn discussions of corruption in the management of natural resources,focus is often placed on extractive industries, as spatial/urban planningare not adequately recognized. In Montenegro, this is one of the keyareas of concern and an issue to which CSO has been giving particularattention, among other reasons, because of the impact on a number ofdevelopment strategies, and the energy strategy. In addition tomonitoring the implementation of the national anti-corruption strategy,the privatization process, and other key anti-corruption regimes (suchas conflict of interest), CSO has been using freedom of informationprovisions as the foundations of its watchdog work.
Regional challenges: the energy sector in SerbiaWith privatization processes largely completed throughout the region, theenergy sector is the next crucial corruption challenge in SEE and one with afundamentally regional character. There is an insufficient energy supply in theregion, and while efficiency and diversification are seen as the only feasiblelong-term strategies, the efforts to date have not considered all the optionsadequately due to, among others, certain vested interests in the regionalenergy market.Corruption threats in the energy sector throughout the market rest in four keyareas: politicization, key players, privatization, and investments. Energyproviders are still largely state-owned enterprises characterized byinefficiencies and politicization. These enterprises are considered the mostattractive posts for political appointments, a management system which doesnot reward efficiency and performance. The investment and privatizationprospects for the state owned energy enterprises are not promising—theseprocesses have been, and continue to be, intransparent and politicized. A lackof clear strategies in the area further opens the space for, at a minimum,inefficient and unstrategic developments.
Opportunities and limitation of EU accession in the fight against corruption: theBulgarian experienceDespite high expectations, the EU accession process failed to deliver a decisive victory overorganized crime and corruption in Bulgaria, as witnessed by the EU sanctions undertaken inthe summer of 2008. The accession process emphasizes formal compliance rather thanimplementation, and furthermore, necessitates undertaking a vast range of obligations thatinstitutions in states in transition lack the capacity to implement effectively in a relativelyshort time frame. It is a mistake to view the EU accession process as a “magic wand” thatwill solve all of a country’s problems, but it does contribute to building an institutionalframework for the fight against corruption. In Bulgaria in particular, part of the difficulty liesin the fact that corruption was discussed without sufficient focus on key issues and sectors,but without sufficient emphasis on implementation, and without sufficient accent on anti-corruption measures as such. Today, there exists a renewed understanding of the challenges,particularly the importance of political corruption.The experience of Bulgaria, Romania, and other new member states inaugurates a newunderstanding for the challenges inherent in fighting corruption within the EU accessionprocess and is likely to contribute to more specific and meaningful benchmarks for newcandidates, as it has become clear that corruption plaguing a member state becomes aproblem of the EU, and becomes about defending the institutions and interests of the EU.Moving forward, the anti-corruption efforts of accession countries need to demonstrate amore profound understanding of the challenges ahead, including the elaboration of morelong-term strategies that will be sustainable and focused on outcomes.
PUBLIC PROCUREMENTAt the and of last year Transparency International Bosnia andHerzegovina (TI BiH) has issued a report on Monitoring of theImplementation of the Law on Public Procurement, within the activitiesof monitoring the implementation of Anti-Corruption Reforms in Bosniaand Herzegovina.The Monitoring findings have indicated the lack of transparency in publicprocurement because open participation in the overall procurement fellfrom about 91% in 2008, to 37% in 2011. This is primarily due toamendments to the Law on Public Procurement in 2009 which hasraised the limit for direct agreements and led to a reduction of thenumber of public procurement conducted in open bidding procedures.
PUBLIC PROCUREMENTIn addition to caring for the incorporation of the basic principles of EU-Treaty(transparency, equal treatment, free competition and non-discrimination), asignificant space in the questionnaire on public procurement, which contains 26questions, dedicated to the issue of prevention and fight against corruption.From the standpoint of the current problematic practice in BiH, among themost important issues are:- The rules for the prevention of sharing tender to avoid complicatedprocedures;- The rules for defining the technical specifications. and a clear distinctionbetween the criteria qualification and award of contracts;- Conditions for exemption due to corruption / conflicts of interest and relatedproblems, and breach of contract concluded on this basis, as well as how dataare existing rules in the past implemented, and how competent governmentclerk to connect as detected conflicts of interest;
However, the biggest benefit will be the increased transparency ofdoing business in the neighbouring country.Croatia continues adopting and implementing EU legislation and is nowcompleting its alignment with the acquis, awaiting to become the 28thMember State of the European Union on 1 July 2013. After a notableand steady progress during the last years, an adequate legal andinstitutional framework is firmly place and a track record ofimplementation continues to be developed. Law enforcement bodiesare largely proactive, especially on higher-level cases, area whichremains an essential problem in other SEE countries. Croatia has alsoimproved its track record of strengthened prevention measures bymeans of a number of legal instruments.
The job of Croatia, however, is far from over. Local-level corruptionneeds attention, particularly in the area of public procurement. Effortsare needed to ensure a sustained track record of efficient, effective andunbiased investigation, prosecution and court rulings of corruptioncases. Lack of political integrity and strong accountability mechanismslead to State capture and the presence of vast private economicinterests, affecting policy-making and influencing the judicial process.Conflict of interest legislation is not fully implemented. Issues related tocivil society capture and biased media also constitute a problem, whichleads to effective lack of public discussion on policies of strategicimportance.
BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINAThe focus will be on the changes that will happen inside Bosnia andHerzegovina because of those influences from outside, like:- better customer protection,- better environment protection and- better regulations adjusted to the EU directives.
Thank you !!!Darijo Lazicdarijolazic@blic.netMob. +387 65 94 19 69www.transparency.org