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The European Neighbourhood policy and public administration reform
Michael Köhler
Director for Neighbourhood South, DG NEA...
[The key elements of the new ENP]
I will provide you in a moment the Commission's definition of public
administration refo...
[Public administration reform in the ENP review]
Ladies and gentlemen,
The new ENP acknowledges that public administration...
communicated this definition in 2014, in a strategy document for the
enlargement countries.
This comprehensive definition ...
6) Public financial management – this dimension highlights that a robust
public financial management system is a precondit...
Action Plan 2016-20, which also contributes to meeting the Sustainable
Development Goal 5 on gender equality. Even though ...
differentiated approach, supported by the Principles of Public Administration.
We promote an inclusive approach addressing...
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Michael Koehler, The Principles of Public Administration for ENP Countries, Jordan 10 May 2016

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Speech by Michael Koehler, European Commission, on The European Neighbourhood Policy and public administration reform at the conference co-organised by SIGMA with the Jordanian Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation and the EU at the Dead Sea, Jordan 10 May 2016.

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Michael Koehler, The Principles of Public Administration for ENP Countries, Jordan 10 May 2016

  1. 1. The European Neighbourhood policy and public administration reform Michael Köhler Director for Neighbourhood South, DG NEAR, European Commission Conference "The Principles of Public Administration – a framework for ENP countries" 10 May 2016, Dead Sea, Jordan Dear Minister, Deputy Director De Mello, Ambassadors, Excellencies, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, Allow me to first thank you, Minister Fakhoury and your colleagues in the Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation and the Ministry of Public Sector Development for co-hosting this conference together with the OECD and the European Commission. It is a great pleasure to meet here at the Dead Sea. I am also very pleased to see so many representatives from our partner countries and international donor organisations as well as colleagues from the EU Delegations. We will discuss the importance of public administration reform today, but we have to be conscious of one thing. Do we all have the same understanding of what it means? For some of you it might be mainly about civil service reform, for others it might be about improving service delivery and eGovernment. Some of you might consider also public finance reforms. Public administration reform can be limited or it can be wide. It all depends very much from the country context. And it also reflects the different historical and political experiences of our states. Clearly public administration reform is not understood in a same way in a centralised and a decentralised state. 1
  2. 2. [The key elements of the new ENP] I will provide you in a moment the Commission's definition of public administration reform and how the Principles of Public Administration fit in it. But let me first say a few words about the revised European Neighbourhood Policy. As you know, it was adopted only six months ago by the European Commission and the High Representative, and it was fully endorsed by all EU Member States. It provides a new political framework and defines the EU's relations with the Eastern and Southern neighbours for the next years. The main objective of the new ENP is to jointly create more effective partnerships that will allow the stabilisation of the EU neighbours and create more stable bases for increased prosperity and security of our peoples. We need to commonly address the various sources of instability such as poverty, inequality, corruption, weak economic and social development and lack of opportunities, particularly for the young people. The EU will therefore apply a smarter mix of incentives, crisis management and long-term opportunities. Differentiation is central to the new ENP. The EU wants to work more pragmatically and effectively with each partner according to both individual aspirations and the EU’s own interests. The new ENP is therefore a real opportunity to strengthen cooperation through a number of joint priorities. This will also help to achieve greater mutual ownership. The EU’s own stability is built on democracy, human rights and the rule of law. These are the key universal values that the EU wants to promote in the new ENP. A common ground on addressing these values can be achieved by focusing on the United Nations' 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its Sustainable Development Goals. All partner countries, all EU Member States and the EU are committed to meeting them. 2
  3. 3. [Public administration reform in the ENP review] Ladies and gentlemen, The new ENP acknowledges that public administration reform is essential, also in view of meeting the key objective of stabilisation. Accountable public administration at central and local government level is necessary to ensure democratic governance and economic development. The communication on the ENP policy lists a number of objectives for public administration reform, including strengthening democratic and independent institutions, supporting parliaments, developing local and regional authorities, developing service delivery and eGovernment, depoliticising civil service, improving capacity in policy development, increasing institutional transparency and accountability, and improving public financial management. These ENP policy objectives largely also correspond with the UN Sustainable Development Goal number 16, which promotes peaceful and inclusive societies, access to justice for all, and effective, accountable institutions at all levels. [The proposed new framework for Public Administration Reform] The communication on the ENP policy gives a hint about our proposed new framework for public administration reform in the ENP countries. In brief, we are advocating comprehensive PAR, inclusive PAR and cross-cutting PAR. We believe this 'three pillar' framework will contribute to the key objective of stabilisation. It also allows differentiation and supports greater mutual ownership in the new ENP. Since I promised to give you the Commission's definition of public administration reform, let me start with the comprehensive PAR. We have first 3
  4. 4. communicated this definition in 2014, in a strategy document for the enlargement countries. This comprehensive definition comes from the increased understanding in the Commission, after working over more than twenty years with many transition countries, that in essence, there are six core dimensions to public administration reform. These dimensions are cross-cutting and mutually enhancing. Let me now list them briefly: 1) The strategic framework for public administration reform – this dimension highlights that reforms need to be well planned, communicated and regularly monitored at the highest political level; 2) Policy development and coordination – this dimension highlights that the quality of policies and legislation depends on the quality of inter-ministerial coordination and involvement of citizens in policy-making; 3) Public service and human resources management – this dimension highlights that a professional, depoliticised and ethical civil service is more likely to be accountable and provide better public services to citizens; 4) Accountability – this dimension highlights the need to ensure citizens' rights to good administration, access to information and access to justice; 5) Service delivery – this dimension highlights that administrative procedures and eGovernment services need to be responsive to businesses’ and citizens’ needs and cut red tape to the extent possible; 4
  5. 5. 6) Public financial management – this dimension highlights that a robust public financial management system is a precondition for prevention of corruption and effective service delivery. The Commission has worked very closely with OECD/SIGMA to define each core area in detail with the Principles of Public Administration, which SIGMA will present today. These principles are based on the universal principles of good governance and international standards. They describe the requirements for a well-functioning public administration. Ladies and gentlemen, We are strongly convinced that the ENP countries should use this broad PAR reference framework and the supporting Principles, when engaging in policy dialogue and financial assistance. We also would like to advocate this framework among the donors who provide support on PAR. The advantage of this framework is that it is objective and it allows differentiation. Countries can address reforms comprehensively or only in one area that is most relevant for them, while maintaining an overview on how all the areas link to each other. Beside comprehensive PAR, we also advocate inclusive PAR. The new ENP policy calls for engaging with civil society and economic and social actors to advance fundamental reforms. We therefore promote open government, which is transparent, allows citizens' access to information and encourages citizens to participate in decision-making. It equally means about supporting civil society to become a constructive partner in policy-making. Inclusive PAR includes also the support to gender equality and local authorities. The EU is committed to promote gender equality in line with the EU Gender 5
  6. 6. Action Plan 2016-20, which also contributes to meeting the Sustainable Development Goal 5 on gender equality. Even though the Principles of Public Administration have been prepared with a central government in mind, many principles apply by analogy to local governments. We are therefore also committed to improve local authorities' capacities for transparent and accountable policy-making and service delivery. The third element in our proposed new framework is cross-cutting PAR. In short, we believe that better policy and legislative development, and an effective public administration is key to the success of our sectoral support, be it in environment, energy, agriculture, education or any other sector. Our twinning and technical assistance projects are already supporting good policies and legislation, but quite often we regret to observe poor track records with implementation and enforcement. It is therefore necessary to start to also address the policy development process. For example, are the fiscal and other impacts of laws and policies properly assessed? Are sufficient funds for implementation ensured in the budget? Are proposals consulted with other ministries and external stakeholders? If the answer is no to most of these questions, then it is likely that the adopted laws will be difficult to implement. Our increased focus on 'better regulation' is especially important for countries with the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Areas in force or in preparation. But it is equally important for other countries, as it contributes to better policies and more open governments. Ladies and Gentlemen, The European Commission is proposing a new approach to public administration reform in the ENP countries. We advocate a comprehensive yet 6
  7. 7. differentiated approach, supported by the Principles of Public Administration. We promote an inclusive approach addressing open government, gender equality and local authorities. We also advocate better policy and legislative development in sectoral policies. The conference today offers you the possibility to express your views on this proposed new framework and the Principles of Public Administration, share your experience on PAR and reflect on how to use the new framework in your own local specific context. I encourage you to engage as much as possible in these discussions, so that we can later on focus on how to engage with each of you. As you know, the EU has already started to consult partner countries on future assistance priorities. Each partner country needs to therefore consider why public administration reform is important to them and how to best address it. We are ready to support comprehensive stand-alone PAR programmes or address PAR through civil society support or through sectoral programmes. Also, certain elements of PAR could be addressed under economic reform and rule of law programmes. Let me conclude by saying that we are not promoting public administration reform for the sake of public administration reform. It is not an end in itself. It is a means to help each country to achieve specific objectives and tackle specific challenges, be it economic development, poverty reduction, fight against corruption or ensuring peace and stability. In fact this is at the heart of the reform agenda of each country and should be a common thread throughout the partnership priorities that we are currently negotiating with many ENP partners. Thank you for your attention. 7

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