The Project “You4EU – Citizen Participation 2.0” was implemented by Institute Alternative in collaboration with Belgrade Open School (Serbia), Access Info Europe (Spain), Gong (Croatia) and PiNA (Slovenia) from 1 September 2018 to 29 February 2020 and with the support of the European Union within the Europe for Citizens Programme.
The Project contributed to the improvement of citizen participation in policy development and implementation processes in the EU Member States (MS) and accession countries by increasing citizens’ understanding of their role and impact they can have in development of public policies.
The Project also encouraged discussion on various modalities of citizen participation, especially e-participation, in key national and EU developmental policies, as well as enriched the exchange of experiences between the EU MS and accession countries on important EU policies, enlargement process, and helped in combating Euroscepticism.
The project activities included 1,066 direct participants, while the information about the Project reached approximately 556,000 participants through social media, internet portals, newsletters, YouTube videos and promotional materials.
The overview of all the implemented activities could be found here.
We will support four civil society organisations to, together with us and with Human Rights Action (HRA), contribute to the fight against the worrying trend of narrowing civic participation space in Montenegro.
Through the project ‘’Voice Your Rights! – Expanding Space for Free Assemblies”, Institute Alternative and the Human Rights Action will contribute to the development of democracy and a greater degree of respect for fundamental human freedoms by improving the environment for the enjoyment of the right to freedom of assembly.
In the achievement of this aim, we will be supported by civil society organisations from Montenegro whose projects were rated as the best of the 12 submitted to the Small Grants Contest.
1. “Professional Reporting on Public Assemblies”, NGO Media Center;
2. “Journalists for Freedom of Assembly”, Association of Professional Journalists of Montenegro;
3. “Freedom of Assembly between Local Self-government and the Constitution of Montenegro”, Center for Civil Liberties”;
4. “Freedom of Assembly of LGBTQ persons at the Local Level”, LGBTQ Social Center.
The total support for these four projects, provided by Institute Alternative with the help of the Delegation of the European Union to Montenegro, amounts to 34,190 euros, while the individual value of the projects amounts from 6,000 to 10,000 euros.
The civil society organisations that we have supported, will carry out projects in Budva, Podgorica, Nikšić and Pljevlja, and all of the projects will last six months. The project’s target groups are the media, members of the LGBTQ community, civil society organisations, representatives of institutions, primarily the police, and Montenegrin citizens.
For organisations whose projects are supported, in addition to financial support, a capacity development program is provided in the area of project management and monitoring the enjoyment of the right to freedom of assembly.
We thank to all of the organisations that applied for the Call and we want to praise all the received project proposals which, due to limited budget funds, we couldn’t support this time.
Organising and participating in public assemblies is a human right that gives a voice to those who don’t have access to the legislative institutions or don’t have their representatives in them, as well as to those who have little or no opportunity to express their opinion, publicly or through the media. Also, the right to peaceful assembly can play a significant role in strengthening support for reforms and changes or expressing dissatisfaction of them. In most cases, people’s peaceful assemblies are the most direct attempt to influence governments and institutions and expressing opinions about local and national policies.
Project ‘’Voice Your Rights! – Expanding Space for Free Assemblies” is being implemented by Institute Alternative, in partnership with Human Rights Action and supported by European Union through the Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights, Program for Montenegro 2018. The content in no way reflects the views of European Union.
Our Dina Bajramspahić, as a guest in the show on European integrations on Radio of Montenegro, commented on the reaction of European institutions to the coronavirus pandemic, the EU’s position towards the Western Balkans in the new situation as well as the potential impact of a pandemic on European Integration of Montenegro.
Interview with journalist Olivera Slavnić you may listen here:
Some highlights from the interview:
“The slow and passive reaction of European institutions to the coronavirus pandemic was caused, among other things, by the fact that democratic systems are generally slower than non-democratic ones and that European institutions depend on national reflexes they receive from key EU governments”, said Bajramspahić for Radio of Montenegro. She added that “European passivity did come at a price and that they began to act only when they became aware of the consequences of such a situation”.
Bajramspahić also believes that such a response from Brussels can be attributed to a kind of fear, but not of Brussels itself as a symbol of the EU, but before national governments whose first reactions were to keep all their resources to themselves and turn to a national solution. “But you can not have a national solution to a global problem”, she said, and concluded that it took a long time to several national governments, especially the northern states of the EU, to realise the consequences of such a position.
Answering the question whether the support to the countries that are not yet members and the WB was expected, Bajramspahić states that it was not completely expected. And that the quick and dynamic reaction of China influenced Brussels to ask what will be the consequences of insufficient solidarity policies, led to the policies towards the Western Balkans being favourable in our favour as well.
Bajramspahić also emphasised that at this moment there is no publicly available information on monitoring the spending of money that Montenegro received from the European Union, which is extremely important, and that the Government should show responsibility and make spending of that money as fair and transparent as possible.
“We fought for transparency regarding the spending of the funds citizens donated for fight COVID-19, where some progress has been made as the Government now publishes some kind of reports once a week. This is only the first step, and we will continue to monitor the situation in that regard and in general the situation in relation to the budget at the national and local level”, Bajramspahić said.
Asked if we can guess whether this will shake the current framework of the Union in financial and form terms, Bajramspahić said: “There are many parallel problems that occurs at the same time and shake the European Union. Starting with the first and inadequate EU reactions, medical equipment export ban of certain countries, as well as the crisis of the rule of law in some member states, especially in Hungary”.
“Despite all the criticism and all the problems we have discussed, the EU is still the best possible solution for us and must be our priority. Even if enlargement is not a priority for the EU we need to accomplish our tasks and we have no excuse and we shouldn’t have them “, Bajramspahić concluded.
What are the current positive things concerning the countries of the Western Balkans? Will progress reports will be published in regular time? What will happen with Chapter 8, and whether we have progress in key Chapters 23 and 24?
The publication analyzes the civil service system of public administration, accountability, free access to information and service delivery.
In the area of the civil service system, the "new" Law on Civil Servants and Employees is being processed, which has been in force since July 1, 2018, which perpetuates the old practices. Then, the analysis of the procedures for filling vacancies where there is no written evidence of conducted interviews, which renders the provisions on the transparency of the procedure and candidate’s right to access documents related to the advertisement meaningless. The Ad interim status is analyzed as the weak link in the professionalization of civil service management and abuse of this practice, while HR planning at the central level reflects an absence of a strategic approach, the essence of HR planning has not been grasped.
The chapter on accountability analyzes the organization of administration, Administrative inspection, Disciplinary Board, Code of Ethics, Complaints Committee, integrity plans, Budget inspection, as well as decisions and challenges in the work of the Protector of Human Rights and Freedoms (the Ombudsman). Free access to information points to the case of the case of the Government of Montenegro Commission for Housing Issues, proactive disclosure of information and the open data portal. A survey of citizens' attitudes towards public administration services shows that in the last three years, a higher share of citizens who are familiar with the existence of the eGovernment portal has been recorded, while only 7% of Montenegrin citizens use the portal.
The Report on the handling of administrative matters, published by the Government in 2019, for the first time also includes reports on the local self-governments’ handling of administrative matters, as a requirement under the new Law on Administrative Procedure. In the domain of electronic services, institutions do not update their data on the released e-services, do not promote their services on the e-government portal, do not have information on the number of services they provide on the portal, do not use the opportunities for digitalisation of services provided by the portal and insist on receiving hard copies.
This analysis was prepared within the project “FAR - Evidence For Better Administrative Reform”, implemented by the Institute Alternative and supported by the European Union within the sector budget support for public administration reform.
Nearly 50 NGOs and over 30 editors and journalists of the Montenegrin media sent today an open letter to the Prime Minister of Montenegro, Duško Marković, requesting to postpone public discussions and consultations on amendments to the Law on Free Access to Information until the end of the epidemic.
We call on you to postpone public consultations on amendments to the Law on Free Access to Information, which foresee numerous restrictions on the work of investigative journalists and NGO sector, until the end of the epidemic.
In a situation where the peak of the coronavirus epidemic is expected and in the atmosphere of uncertainty, it is necessary, more than ever, for citizens to have full trust in the institutions of the state, while fake news can leave enormous consequences. Therefore, we expected that the Government would work on increasing the openness of institutions, in cooperation with the media and NGO sector, instead of creating conditions in such situation to withhold even more information.
The decision of the Ministry to put the Law on Free Access to Information up for discussion right now does not contribute to the trust of citizens in the work of the Government. The law has been sharply criticized by journalists, non-governmental activists and foreign experts, while the European Commission has repeatedly pointed to the poor legal framework and even worse practice of institutions. We noted that the Ministry of Public Administration on Friday extended the deadline for submitting comments until April 13, and announced that it would organize a discussion via video conference afterwards.
We would like to remind you that at this moment there is a strong need for accurate and verified information in order to avoid a flood of fake news. This will not be possible if institutions continue to withhold information, and in particular, if they are provided with the legal basis that will exist if such law is adopted.
Namely, this version of amendments to the law also contains numerous norms which, contrary to the Constitution and standards, narrow the rights of citizens to information held by state bodies, and in particular restricts the work of investigative journalists and NGO sector.
Although we can send more specific comments by April 13, we do not think that it is appropriate to organise consultation on such important issues by video link in such situation when even the Parliament does not hold sessions, thus we once again urge that the whole matter be postponed until the situation returns to normal.
The proposed amendments allow institutions to withhold even more information than before, while in the eve of elections, political parties are abolished from the obligation to publish information on all finances. It is not prescribed what can be considered trade or tax secrets, and under what conditions information exchanged with other countries or international organizations can be hidden. At the same time, courts and prosecutor’s offices are allowed to withhold all information about court proceedings and investigations.
However, now when the epidemic is officially declared, while citizens are locked in their homes, and after numerous restrictions on movement and gatherings are introduced, there are no elementary conditions for holding a meaningful public debate on the issue. The debate on the Law at the time of the epidemic is by no means fitting into the dialogue that you have started within the Alliance for Europe, and it completely refutes everything that is presented as the aim of the initiative.
We hope that the decision to hold public consultations on the citizens’ constitutional right to access information during the epidemic has been taken in haste, and therefore we urge you to hold an adequate public debate on this Law only after citizens are allowed to attend public meetings.
The undersigned NGOs, media editors and journalists:
NGO The Network for Affirmation of NGO Sector – MANS
NGO Human Rights Action – HRA
NGO Institute Alternative – IA
NGO The Centre for Monitoring and Research – CEMI
NGO Center for Civil Liberties – CEGAS
NGO Center for Democratic Transition – CDT
Center for Investigative Journalism of Montenegro – CIN-CG
NGO Centre for Democracy and Human Rights – CEDEM
NGO 35 mm
Crime and corruption reporting network – LUPA
NGO Center for Protection and Research of Birds – CZIP
NGO Green Home
NGO Media Centre
NGO Young Roma
NGO European Association for Law and Finance (EALF)
Committee of Young Lawyers of Montenegro
Montenegrin Youth Initiative
Youth Workers Alliance Montenegro
Montenegrin Debate Union
NGO Women’s Safe House – SŽK
NGO Montenegrin Ecologists Society – CDE
Roma Youth Organization “Walk with us – Phiren Amenca”
NGO Our Action
Association of Paraplegics Podgorica
NGO Eco Team
NGO Centre for Entrepreneurship
Association of Paraplegics Bijelo Polje and Mojkovac
Union of Free Trade Unions of Montenegro
Committee of Lawyers for the Protection of Human Rights of Montenegro (CKZP)
NGO Association for Civil Society Development Bijelo Polje
NGO Institute for Business and Financial Literacy
Dr Martin Schneider – Jacoby Association MSJA
NGO Association of Youth with Disabilities of Montenegro – UMHCG
NGO Workers from Bankrupt Companies in Montenegro
Foundation “HELP – Action for North of Montenegro”
NGO Hope Herceg Novi
NGO UZPD Nikšić
Network for education and development of support services for persons with disabilities – MERSP
Hand of Friendship Foundation
NGO Pandora, Herceg Novi
Editors and journalists
Tatjana Ašanin, editor, TV Vijesti
Nikola Marković, editor, DAN
Marijana Bojanić, director,TV Vijesti
Tina Popović, editor, ID Vijesti
Mihailo Jovović, programme editor, ID Vijesti
Srdan Kosović, editor, ID Vijesti
Marko Vešović, journalist, DAN
Milka Tadić Mijović, director, CIN-CG
Goran Kapor, journalist, ID Vijesti
Damira Kalač, journalist, ID Vijesti
Danilo Ajković, journalist, TV Vijesti
Jelena Jovanović, journalist, ID Vijesti
Milica Krgović, journalist, DAN
Vuk Lajović, journalist, ID Vijesti
Darko Ivanović, journalist
Svetlana Đokić, journalist, TV Vijesti
Danijela Lasica, journalist, TV Vijesti
Siniša Luković, journalist, ID Vijesti
Draško Milačić, journalist, DAN
Milorad Milošević, journalist, ID Vijesti
Marija Mirjačić, journalist, ID Vijesti
Ana Ostojić, journalist, DAN
Vladimir Otašević, journalist, DAN
Miloš Rudović, journalist, ID Vijesti
Majda Šabotić, journalist, TV Vijesti
Duško Vuković, journalist
Dobrila Plamenac Vuković, editor in chief, PCNEN
Tijana Pravilović, journalist, TV Vijesti
Milena Perović Korać, journalist, Monitor
Bojana Bojović Golijanin, journalist, TV Vjesti
Mileva Kostić, journalist, TV Vijesti
This project directly contributes to inclusive and participatory policymaking at the European Union (EU) level by bringing citizens’ input into the formulation and redefinition of EU enlargement policy to the Western Balkans. More specifically, it aims to engage youth from the Western Balkans in the Future of Europe Debate.
The project will consist of 9 events gathering youth activists, students and academia from the Western Balkans and EU member states. Through moderated discussion at these events, participants will provide their ideas and proposals for the development of the EU in the future. Youth will also have an opportunity to contribute their thoughts through discussions opened on an online platform. All contributions given will be in the form of policy outputs with specific recommendations. At the end of the Project, all of the policy outputs developed will serve as a contribution from the youth of the Western Balkans to the ongoing debate on the future of Europe.
See more about the Project’s website – www.mladirini.org. See more about the events we held during the Project here.
This project is financed by the European Agency for Cultural, Educational and Audio-Visual Policies through its Europe for Citizens programme.