ReSPA Panel at 29th NISPAcee Annual Conference
"Experiences in capacity development for Regulatory Impact Assessment in the Western Balkans – current challenges and way forward”
• Dragan Djuric, ReSPA Programme Manager - Coordinator, Montenegro
• Gentian Xhaxhiu, ReSPA Programme Manager - Legal, Montenegro
On 21-23 October 2021 will be organized in Ljubljana (Slovenia) the 29th NISPAcee Annual Conference entitled "Citizens' Engagement and Empowerment – The Era of Collaborative Innovation in Governance”. In this regard, ReSPA in agreement with the organizers of the Conference, will organize a dedicated panel with the participation of civil servants dealing with Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA) in the Western Balkans, entitled "Experiences in capacity development for Regulatory Impact Assessment in the Western Balkans”.
The need for an effective regulatory management system is well recognized in Western Balkans. All the countries have adopted regulatory and/or public administration reform strategies, with the aim of ensuring policy co-ordination and making their business environments more competitive. Important segment of these strategies is adoption and implementation of the Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA). Over the last 10-12 years these countries introduced RIA as an integral part of their regulatory reforms, and impact assessment had become a formal requirement for the executive branch in the development of new regulations in all Western Balkan administrations. It is noted that the practice and use of Regulatory Impact Assessment in the Western Balkans is steadily being adopted, but still falls short of its full potential. Further improvement and embedding of RIA would be an important step for promoting greater integration with EU practice and performance. It could help reduce the risks related to implementation and enforcement of a large number of new regulations of the WB region that originate from transposing the acquis.
ReSPA developed a comprehensive Study on Better Regulation in Western Balkan, which stressed that the European Union better regulation agenda requests the most efficient ways of delivering policy objectives without creating unnecessary burdens
for citizens, businesses and the public administration. This study recognized that although RIA implementation in Western Balkans varies significantly, both in scope and form, there are some common challenges
in term of: participatory culture within the government, preventing adequate input from and scrutiny of RIA by external stakeholders; continuous high-level political support for RIA; staff to oversee and conduct RIA; technical skills and adequate capacity within the government and the stakeholder community; institutional support to RIA units. The study provides concrete recommendation for each of the administrations in the Region. In June 2021, ReSPA organized a monitoring exercise of the level of fulfillment of these recommendations, and noted that most of the recommendations have been adopted and are under preparation, but not yet implemented
. This means that there is still much work and efforts to dedicate for fully addressing the recommendations.
In 2021, OECD/SIGMA published the paper "Regulatory Impact Assessment and EU Law Transposition in the Western Balkans”. The paper emphasizes that the potential benefits of ex ante RIA in legislative drafting and the EU transposition process have not yet been fully realized in the accession countries of the WB region, for which this is especially relevant. Formal rules and methodologies to enable the use of RIA in lawmaking, including in EU law transposition, are generally established in all WB administrations, but their implementation is inconsistent and, the overall quality of RIAs produced in the region is still weak. In addition, the Paper concludes that a significant proportion of regulations introduced through secondary legislation does not undergo systematic regulatory oversight or assessment of impact and risks in most of the WB administrations. RIA models applied in several WB administrations primarily focus on assessing and analyzing regulatory proposals introduced through primary legislation.
Obviously, stronger political support is needed to overcome bureaucratic and political inertia, which often is one of key obstacles for successful performance of RIA, which has to be constantly and consistently applied in order to become a standard regulatory management tool. Therefore, the governments have to develop adequate administrative and analytical capacities for standardized utilization of this tool. Substantial obstacles need to be overcome if better regulation agenda, especially the RIA framework, are to be properly embedded in the WB policy making processes. There is a clear need for guiding and training in RIA activities among the WB administrations. Inadequate state funding, lack of advanced training in RIA and insufficient budgets for background studies and support units have prevented countries from overcoming their current limitations.
ReSPA has provided continuous support to Western Balkan administrations in their efforts to enhance administrative capacities necessary for comprehensive RIA exercises, and successful utilization of RIA in improvement of the policy cycle. This support is oriented toward utilization of RIA as strategic tool and support to evidence-based policy making process. Currently, ReSPA is working on the preparation of a "Practical RIA package” for improving implementation of RIA in Western Balkans, as well as is preparing a pilot ToT Training on RIA.
Therefore, at 29th NISPAcee Annual Conference ReSPA panel will be devoted to presentation of the main best cases examples of development of practice of utilization of RIA in the policy cycle and legislation preparation within Western Balkan administrations. A special emphasis shall be put to the public consultation and engagement of citizens in these processes, in line with the main topic of the conference. After briefly identifying the challenges, the panelist will aim to conclude on some potential recommendations on the way forward. The panel will be moderated by: Dragan Djuric, Programme Manager-Coordinator in ReSPA and Gentian Xhaxhiu, Programme Manager-Legal in ReSPA, and will last approximately 60 minutes.
The Panelists are members of ReSPA regional working group for Better Regulation, representing the administrations in the region and one representative from OECD/SIGMA (tbc).