Public Administration Reform is not a science. It is directly linked to a historic development of a state, administrative tradition as well as its political process. Every state has its own realities, problems and solutions and because of that a key for successful public administration reform does not exist, but there are positive trends, standards and principles which should be respected. One of them is administrative cooperation which implies creating capacities which would be able to implement the EU legislation, which is, in the context of the European Union, of utmost importance. Dialogue, consensus and culture of negotiation are part of the European Union heritage. This is one of the conclusions of the third SIGMA Networking seminar, held in Paris from March 04-05, 2010. Seminar gathered representatives of Western Balkans countries and Turkey who are dealing with matters of the public administration reform, task managers for public administration reform (PAR) in the European Union Delegations in the said countries, the SIGMA Experts who are involved in issues of reform processes in the countries, representatives of the Directorate General for EU enlargement, the Unit for Institutional Building and other respected lecturers and experts.
The most important experiences of the large, fifth EU enlargement are:
- Reform of civil service is a result of internal efforts of states
- Professionalism of public service is not determined by political ideology
- EU conditionality, whether ambitious or weak, helps reformers
- Reform sustainability in post accession period is conditioned by continuity of political parties
- Projects of technical assistance should promote realistic expectations
- Indirect PAR would be worth examining, for example, through sector reforms PAR of the whole civil service should be launched, enabling thus a new level of professionalism, social dialogue development with the aim of promotion of reform sustainability and facilitation of implementation, open competition and examination in employment process, creating stable and attractive public service.
One of the aims of this seminar was creating opportunities for experience and information exchange, as well as an opportunity for presenting results of Sustainability Study, discussion on SIGMA assessments in 2009. It was also a platform for stating ideas for improving communication in reform process.
Development of public administration concept which includes all horizontal administrative systems, creating reform which is a product of long term trends strongly supported politically as well as identifying the most important institutions as reforms carriers, represent strategic options for reform management in a European integration context.
Proposals for improving PAR communication are also presented at the seminar, and the PAR meeting Policy paper was announced which would contain proposals for improvement of communication. The training has been assessed as an instrument for information exchange. The PARTS-Public Administration Reform Tools for Stakeholders was also presented. The Participants of the seminar were informed on the RESPA activities so far and on creating possibilities for start of work of the School Secretariat in Danilovgrad.
The SIGMA experts presented the study, published in May 2009, on sustainability of the PAR in the Central and Eastern Europe, 5 years after accession to the EU. The paper pointed on unevenness of results: states have been grouped ranging from those with medium/high adjustments with the EU standards (Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia) to those with stagnation on a very low level of progress in reform after accession (Czech Republic).
Continuation of discussion about recommendations from this report, which should serve as an example for the countries of the West Balkans and Turkey has been announced for the next seminar.
Issues of sustainable professionalization in future member states, which are considered a condition for membership in the EU, have also been examined. It has been emphasized that these issues have significant importance in the process of accession negotiations. However, the Study also showed that reform process continues after accession in different directions and with different intensity.
Representatives of the Public Administration Reform Coordinator’s Office also participated in this seminar.