Government Strategy of Cooperation with Civil Society 2013-2017

Following a Memorandum of Understanding between the Government and Civil Society in 2007, the Government Strategy for Cooperation with Civil Society was adopted in July 2013. This Strategy includes strategic objectives and measures, as well as a specific action plan defining responsibilities. Both the Strategy and Action Plan were developed and drafted together, where civil society has provided most of the expertise for this process. The drafting process has involved many CSOs from different fields of interest. It is planned that this strategy will be continuously monitored on both sides, and periodic assessments and reviews will be made.

Although adopted in 2013, the strategy has started with implementation in 2015. The implementation of all planned activities to be launched during 2013 and 2014 has been postponed for 2015 and beyond, through a detailed Implementation Plan for 2015. By concluding the implementation period of the Strategy, only a part of these activities have been completed or launched. The Council for Implementation of Strategy met regularly, as well as the Working Groups for each of the 4 Strategic Objectives. Despite the initiation of some processes, only a few results have been produced so far, as well as the drafting and approval of a regulation on minimum standards of public consultation and a regulation for setting the criteria for public funds. Among the main problems remain the lack of necessary thematic capacities on the part of the government and the lack of interest in involving and contributing to the process of many line ministries, which has caused most of the ongoing activities to be started and run by civil society representatives or Technical Assistance projects. Although not at the same level, similar problems are also present on the side of civil society.

When the Strategy was adopted, the Ministry of Finance has been committed to allocating a budget of EUR 137,960 for the implementation of the Strategy for each year. However, throughout the implementation period of the Strategy, with the exception of the small meetings held at government premises and covered by the budget of the Office of Good Governance (OGG), all other activities are made possible thanks to donor support.

To better perform the role of the Government’s main unit for cooperation with civil society, OGG – using external expertise – has designed a comprehensive monitoring system of the Strategy, which was operationalized in December 2015. While OGG has issued regular quarterly and semi-annual reports on the implementation of the Strategy, the lack of substantial and timely contribution of line ministries remains a concern. Moreover, the monitoring system is entirely based on activity-level quantification, bypassing the measurement of any outcome or impact level. This has resulted in unrealistic assessments compared to the results that have actually been achieved. Due to the lack of additional staff committed to the Strategy and without a dedicated budget for implementation, the OGG remains with insufficient human and financial resources to facilitate dialogue between government and civil society and to serve as the secretariat for the Implementation Council.

Already having completed the implementation period of this strategy, the results are mixed. While the objectives of civic participation and public funding for NGOs have achieved some important results, while the objective of providing public services to CSOs and volunteering has not made any progress.