MID-TERM REVIEW OF THE INDICATIVE STRATEGY PAPER (2014–2020) COMMENTS FROM THE IPA 2 MECHANISM FOR CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANIZATIONS

This document is based on civil society feedback on sectoral public policies, challenges and priorities received during consultations organized by the IPA 2 Mechanism for Civil Society Organizations. The consultations involved over 100 participants on several events held from September and October 2016 (see Annex: List of consultative events), as well as comments received by e-mail and during meetings with the elected civil society representatives in each of the eight IPA II sectors.

The document outlines only issues which could be more adequately addressed in the Indicative Strategy Paper for Macedonia (2014–2020), and is therefore not a complete list of civil society feedback received during the consultations. This initial outline will be further developed and elaborated in November 2016.
The IPA 2 Mechanism for Civil Society Organizations unites 217 civil society organizations that aim to strengthen civil society impact in public policies and decision making and influence key reforms for further support of the country in the EU accession processes. More specifically, the IPA 2 Mechanism pursues civil society involvement in programming and monitoring the Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance in Macedonia.

SECTOR : DEMOCRACY AND GOVERNANCE

Sub-area: Public administration reform

Additional needs identified by CSOs:

•    The policy and regulatory framework is subject to frequent and rapid changes, in a process which is not always inclusive and evidence based, while the capacities of public institutions for implementation of the policies, coordination, monitoring and evaluation are inappropriate.
•    The authorities have yet to demonstrate that the framework for administrative procedures and non-judicial administrative disputes ensures effective and efficient protection of citizens’ rights and interests.
•    Lack of systematic analysis on the structure of the state administration and allocation of human resources and measures for their optimization.
Additional planned results to be achieved:
•    Citizen-oriented and transparent public administration.
•    Effective regulatory and institutional framework for administrative actions.
Additional actions recommended by CSOs:
Support should be provided to:
•    Implementation, participatory monitoring and evaluation of the PAR Strategy.
•    Effective inclusion of civil society and other stakeholders at each stage of the policy-making cycle.
•    Enhance the capacities of competent authorities to reduce the costs and improve the quality of administrative procedures and disputes, including by making substantive decisions that would protect the rights and interests of citizens.
•    Conduct a systematic and comprehensive analysis on the structure of the state administration and its human resources and implement an optimization plan.

Sub-area: Decentralization

Additional needs identified by CSOs:
•    The practical implementation of mechanisms for citizen participation and greater accountability of local authorities is lagging.
•    The municipal committees on equal opportunities and on inter-community relations are not established in a number of municipalities or are not fulfilling their functions.
•    Citizens’ perceptions on the efficiency and effectiveness of municipal administrations are often wrongly grounded on the actions taken by regional departments of central government institutions.
•    Regional disparities in the manner of applying the laws by public institutions create legal uncertainty.
Additional actions recommended by CSOs:
Support should be provided to:
•    Establish municipal committees on equal opportunities and committees on inter-community relations in all municipalities where they are required to be created; support, monitor and evaluate their work.
•    Complete the third phase of the fiscal decentralisation that would enable the municipalities to fully manage the revenues and expenditures.
•    Re-examine the division of competences for certain key services between central and local authorities (such as social-protection and health care) and where feasible transfer them to local level.
•    Strengthen the legal and financial framework for urban and rural communities (precincts) as an important mechanism for citizen participation and greater accountability of local authorities; create partnerships between local authorities and civil society organizations in monitoring and implementation of local programmes and strategies

Sub-area: Economic governance

Additional needs identified by CSOs:
•    The budgetary process on national level is not fully transparent, and is not enabling the participation of citizens and other stakeholders.
•    There is lack of transparency on: state assets, public sector debt not guaranteed by the state, public sector arrears, and the granted state aid to foreign investors.
Additional planned results to be achieved:
•    Transparent and participatory budgetary process on national level.
•    Enhanced transparency on state assets and liabilities.
Additional actions recommended by CSOs:
Support should be provided to:
•    ensure participative and transparent budgetary process
•    publish databases on the internet on: state assets, public sector debt which is not guaranteed by the state, public sector arrears, granted state aid to foreign investors, concluded concession agreements.

Sub-area: Civil society

Additional needs identified by CSOs:
•    The Council for cooperation between the Government and civil society was established despite CSO objections over the majority representation of Government representatives in its composition.
•    Despite the efforts of particular institutions, the representatives of CSOs are still not included in the NPAA  working groups on equal footing with the representatives of public institutions.
•    There is no progress in establishing a framework for transparent and accountable funding of CSOs from the state budget.
•    The status of public benefit organizations is not effectively used by CSOs due to lack of additional fiscal or other stimuli for the organizations which have acquired such status.
•    The Government excludes CSOs from utilizing the fiscal incentives of the active labour market measures, as only private sector entities are eligible for those incentives.
Additional planned results to be achieved:
•    enhanced cooperation and dialogue between the government and civil society
Additional actions recommended by CSOs:
Support should be provided to:
•    enhance the cooperation, create partnerships and build trust between the government and civil society, including by incorporating representatives of citizen associations and foundations in the NPAA working groups in a transparent manner, and on equal footing with the representatives of the public sector entities.

Sub-area: EU accession-related reforms

Additional needs identified by CSOs:
•    Representatives of CSOs are still not included in transparent and objective manner in the sectoral working groups for IPA 2 programming; national programing documents are not available on local languages and do not include adequate information on the conducted consultation processes.
•    The Central Donor Assistance Database features data only for the foreign aid whose implementers submitted a request for its registration in the database, and does not offer data on all foreign aid granted to the Republic of Macedonia thereby hampering effective donor coordination.
Additional planned results to be achieved:
•    Included representatives of the CSOs in the sectoral working groups for planning and programming of the IPA II on equal level with the representatives of the state bodies.
•    The Government has established partnership and duly consults civil society organizations in preparing, implementing and monitoring of the IPA, and encourages coordination among relevant stakeholders.
Additional actions recommended by CSOs:
Support should be provided to:
•    Include representatives of CSOs in a transparent manner in the sectoral working groups for IPA II programming; translate draft and final national programing documents in local languages and conduct adequate consultation processes in their development.

SECTOR:    Rule of law and fundamental rights

SUB-AREA:     Justice

Problems (which are not addressed in the document):
–    The Law on Protection of Witnesses should be amended in order to provide a mandate
to the Special Public Prosecution to efficiently and smoothly use the instrument of
protected witness in the cases that are within the jurisdiction of this institution;
–    A special unit within the Directorate for Security and Counterintelligence should be
established (in accordance with Articles 22-31 of the Law on Internal Affairs) with access
to all the resources and equipment used by the Directorate for Security and Counterintelligence
in order to meet the requirements for pre-investigative measures demanded by the SPP
–    The financial independence and sustainability of the SPP should be secured by making
the SPP an independent budget beneficiary. The Government should not play
any role nor intervene in any way during the adoption of the budget;
–    Extending the current 18-months to a 24-months deadline for lodging and the indictment
in relation to the cases transferred from the ordinary public prosecution
offices to the SPP;
Objectives (which are not addressed in the document):
–    Transformation of the SPP into a permanent body
–    The independence of the Judicial Council of the Republic of Macedonia should
be strengthened through appointing new members from the pool of judges and
through allowing them to continue performing judicial duties, in order not to lose the direct contact with the practical aspects of the jurisprudence.
Results (which are not addressed in the document):
–    The strategy for the Judiciary should be adopted after a broad consultation and
expert discussion concerning the novelties/modalities that are being suggested in
order to resolve some key issues in the Judiciary
Actions (which are not addressed in the document):
–    A moratorium on the application of the Law on the Council for Determining Facts and Initiating Procedure for Determining Liability of Judges should be imposed, taking into consideration the noted deficiencies;
–    The criteria for enrollment at the Academy for Judges and Public Prosecutors should
be changed, in order to make the Academy more accessible and more attractive for
the prospective candidates, as well as to decrease the possibility of any political and
other influence in this process;
–    The budget of the Judiciary should be increased, by allocating appropriate
resources, in accordance with the Law on Judiciary Budget;
–    The Supreme Court must accelerate the procedure for installing the database of
court rulings and should find ways to transfer those rulings which have already been
made public by the Basic Courts and the Courts of Appeal to the Central Database

SECTOR:    Rule of law and fundamental rights

SUB-AREA:     Corruption

Problems (which are not addressed in the document):
–    The Bureau of Public Procurement grants access to CSOs to monitor on the spot all
activities of the Commissions for Public Procurement and allow them that they publish
the total documentation of the bids in order to facilitate CSO monitoring
Objectives (which are not addressed in the document):
–    Revise the system of political party financing
Results (which are not addressed in the document):
–    An effective whistleblowing mechanism
Actions (which are not addressed in the document):
–    Ensure the competence and the integrity of the people tasked with interventions in
anticorruption mainly in SCPC and the Public Prosecution;
–    Ensure that the institutions have proper human and financial recourses;
–    Ensure CSO involvement in monitoring public procurement and employment of the
administration;
–    Create a task force between SCPC, Public Revenue Office, and the State Audit

SECTOR:    Environment and climate action

General comments about the needs and capacities in the sector Environment and Climate Action
The ISP has noted that the budget of the Ministry of environment is not sufficient to actually provide the necessary financial resources and investments in the sector. Therefore, a transformation of the current tax collection system needs to take place in order to provide for a system where all environmental related taxes collected feed into the budget of the Ministry (or administrating Agency). Currently, there is no exact calculation available of the funding that enters the central budget collected on the grounds of environmental tax. As the budget of the Ministry has been decreased, the programme to support CSO projects in the area of environmental protection has not been launched for the last 2 years.

SUB-AREA:     Waste management

Problems (which are not addressed in the document):
•    The immediate need for good quality projected and historical data and statistics for the planning of the building and functioning of the integrated regional waste management systems. Although, the regions are progressing towards next phases, crucial statistics and data are not provided.
•    CSO’s and local communities are not sufficiently involved in the process of integrating regional waste management systems due to limited transparency of the process- this will influence the overall quality of the results later.
•    The implementation of the wastewater infrastructure plans are processing very slowly.
•    There should be a comprehensive risk assessment study of increased water tariffs due to construction of wastewater treatment plants in smaller, economically challenged regions.
Objectives (which are not addressed in the document):
/

Results(which are not addressed in the document):
•    Effective system for statistical and historical data gathering and publishing to the public

Actions(which are not addressed in the document):
Support should be provided to:
•    Enhance the capacities of competent authorities to reduce the costs and improve the quality of administrative procedures and disputes in the waste management sector of the Ministry of Environment for the citizens and business sector that use the services.
•    Public awareness raising implemented by local groups in local communities.

SUB-AREA:     Nature protection  

Problems (which are not addressed in the document):
•    Natura 2000 implementation procedure lacks transparency
•    Consultation with civil society already working on the issue is minimal
•    Major infrastructure projects planned inside biodiversity hotspots and future Natura 2000 sites
•    Natura 2000 related legislation although mostly transposed is not properly or at all implemented.
•    Protected areas such as national parks financially depend on economic activities deriving from forest management and do not get state support.
•    No plans or programmes have been developed for protection of critically endangered species and the red list has not been prepared.
Objectives (which are not addressed in the document):
Proposal for modification of current objective (addition in bold and underlined text):
•     The overall objective of IPA II assistance in this sector is to prepare the country for EU accession and to support reforms in areas of environment and climate action, which should lead to a cleaner environment, protection and preservation of species and habitats and improved quality of life. This will contribute to ensuring sustainable growth and the shift to a low-carbon, climate-resilient and resource-efficient economy.
Results(which are not addressed in the document):
•    Protected area authorities have sufficient resources to perform their priority goal- protection and preservation of wild flora and fauna.
•    National programs and plans for species protection developed and implemented.
Actions(which are not addressed in the document):
Support should be provided to:
•    Enhance the capacities of National Parks to provide suitable protection to protected zones inside the National Parks and future Natura 2000 zones
•    Enhance the capacities of civil society already working on the issue so they are able to influence the process of identifying, selecting and protection of Natura 2000 network
•    Development of national species protection programmes.

SUB-AREA:     Air Quality     

Problems (which are not addressed in the document):
•    Lack of capacities of institutions to address air quality issues
•    Lack of coordination among institutions to address air quality issues
Objectives (which are not addressed in the document):
/

Results(which are not addressed in the document):
•    Functioning system for emergency response during exceeding levels of pollution
•    Existing capacity of institutions to implement air quality plans
Actions(which are not addressed in the document):
Support should be provided to:
•    Preparation of traffic solutions for air quality management
•    Improve the collaboration among relevant institutions and between institutions and civil society organisations

SUB-AREA:     Climate Action   

Problems (which are not addressed in the document):
•    No progress in the area of climate action
•    Lack of climate action legislative
•    Lack of finance and capacity for the climate sector
•    No public awareness about climate change in the country
Objectives (which are not addressed in the document):
/

Results(which are not addressed in the document):
/
Actions(which are not addressed in the document):
Support should be provided to:
•    Establish and build capacities of the climate department in the Ministry
•    Improve coordination between relevant institutions for climate change policy development (energy, transport, environment both on national and local level)
•    Enhance the capacities of civil society already working on the issue to disseminate important information and raise the issue of climate change to the general public

SECTOR:    Competitiveness and innovation

SUB-AREA:     Legal and institutional environment

Additional needs identified by CSOs:
•    The Competitiveness strategy and action plan 2016–2020 does not address the need to strengthen institutions that should build consumer confidence, which, as referenced by the Global Competitiveness Index, is crucial for sustainable economic prosperity.
•    The Consumer Protection Law is not fully aligned with the acquis, despite the commitment made in the National programme for adoption of the acquis.
•    A law on misleading and comparative advertising should be adopted (transposition of the Directive 2006/114/EC) in order to introduce mechanisms for dealing with unfair commercial practices in business to business relations.
•    A strategy for stimulating corporate social responsibility was not adopted in 2015, despite the official Government commitment to do so, and its importance in attracting investment and ensuring the long-term competitiveness of the export sector, especially on developed markets.
•    Positive developments are needed to ensure at least a minimum level of transparency and accountability regarding provided state aid to business entities.
•    Noticeable and effective measures and activities of the industrial policy are lacking.
Additional planned results to be achieved:
•    Improved consumer protection and corporate social responsibility.
•    Improved policies on transparency of state aid and creating a level playing field for businesses.
•    A comprehensive strategic and operational framework for Industrial policy.
Additional actions recommended by CSOs:
Support should be provided to:
•    Adopting a new Consumer Protection Law and Strategy on Consumer Protection.
•    Adopting a Strategy for stimulating corporate social responsibility in line with EU standards.
•    Transposing the Directive 2006/114/EC on misleading and comparative advertising.
•    Improvement of state aid transparency.
•    Review of the Industrial policy framework.

Horizontal Issue: Gender Equality

INTRODUCTION

This part of the document is produced within the consultation process of the IPA 2 Mechanism for Civil Society Organizations, by Sector 6 – Employment, Education and Social Policy in cooperation with the Gender Equality Platform .

We welcome the treatment of gender equality as one of the key strategic priorities and a horizontal issue that needs to be addressed in all sectors. Nevertheless, gender equality and women empowerment are not sufficiently elaborated in the strategic document and are completely missing in certain sectors. Upon making certain consultations, the Platform for Gender Equality hereby proposes in this document the following recommendations for improvement.

1. Democracy and Governance

1.1.    Needs and capacities in the sector – There is no systematic approach to ensuring constructive,efficient and effective interaction in promoting gender equality between the government and the local authorities and the organizations specialized in gender relevant research, advocacy and provision of services for women.

1.2.    Objectives, results, actions and indicators – The potential of the Council for cooperation of theGovernment with the Civil Society to influence the establishment of a favorable legal and financial framework for this segment of civil society is limited. The non-democratic and non-transparent process of establishing this body, broadly criticized and largely boycotted by the active civil society, prevented the participation of women’s organizations. The support should be directed towards establishing and formalizing comprehensive functional mechanisms for inclusion and cooperation, support to the strengthening of the capacities and provision of a sustainable system for financing such organizations on the central and local level, particularly considering their role hitherto in the development and accomplishment of the goals of the legal and political framework of gender equality.

2. Rule of Law and Fundamental Rights

2.1.Needs and capacities in the sector – The issue of the existence of structural discrimination thatwomen are facing due to the absence of institutional capacities, effective policies and mechanisms for monitoring, prevention and protection against different forms and areas of discrimination against women is insufficiently addressed . The limited access to justice is especially visible on the local level. The efforts for promotion and protection of the fundamental rights are necessary not only for the marginalizedgroups, but also for women as well. In addition, the afore stated vulnerable groups should include the women victims of domestic violence, as a specific group that is faced with a limited access to justice manifested by the inapplicability of the Law on Free Legal Aid to Women DV Victims; lack of effective investigation by the police and the public prosecution authorities for criminal offences related to violence against women; non-compliance with the legal timelines for protection of women DV victims , rendering more lenient court sentences to the offenders and a discrepancy between the number of pressed criminal charges and indictments in criminal cases related to violence against women . There is no reference of the Strategy for Prevention and Protection Against Domestic Violence and the Strategy for Elimination of Human Trafficking in the strategic documents as documents of relevance.

2.2. Objectives, results, actions and indicators – The results and actions should include an increasedaccess to justice by women victims of gender based violence by providing appropriate legal aid, improving the legal framework for protection, establishing a compensation system and improving the efficiency of the criminal and court proceedings for protection of women victims of gender based violence.

5. Competitiveness and innovations

5.1.    Needs and capacities in the sector –This area does not address the problems and needs related toencouraging and developing women’s entrepreneurship, such as an absence of a system for recognizing and valuing businesses that are dominantly owned by women, a restricted access to information, resources and opportunities for encouraging the development of women’s businesses that largely belong to the group of micro or small enterprises.

5.2.    Objectives, results, actions and indicators – In view of ensuring the principle of equal opportunitiesand non-discrimination, as well as increasing the effects of the planned goals and results, it is necessary to support gender relevant research that is currently lacking and to create active measures for supporting the development of women’s businesses, especially in the sectors with greatest growth potential. Moreover, it is necessary to enhance the planning capacities of the institutions based on the assessment of the specific needs of women for running a business, to establish mechanisms for monitoring and evaluation of their effects from the aspect of the potential for growth and development of women’s businesses, in parallel with increasing the scope, type and support in accordance with the specific needs of women’s businesses4.

6. Education, employment and social policies

6.1. Needs and capacities in the sector –The priority problem in this area is the insufficient involvementand participation of women in public life. Hence, in addition to improving their educational, health and economic status, women’s empowerment for active involvement in the decision making processes, especially on the local level, should be one of the priorities for prevention of any further social exclusion

Annex: List of consultative events – IPA2CSO
Event:    Date:
Consultation on the Priorities for the new
Public Administration Reform Strategy    30.06.2016
Annual conference of the IPA 2 Mechanism for civil society organizations – sectoral consultations    15.09.2016 ¬– 16.09.2016
IPA2CSO Online consultation: Mid-Term Review of the Indicative Strategy Paper for Macedonia (2014–2020)    18.10. 2016 – 21.10.2016
IPA2CSO Coordination meeting: Mid-Term Review of the Indicative Strategy Paper for Macedonia (2014–2020)    18.10. 2016