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The fifth session of the Joint Consultative Committee between Montenegro and the Committee of the Regions

IMG_2292 (2)The fifth session of the Joint Consultative Committee between Montenegro and the Committee of the Regions was held in Cetinje on 3rd November 2015, organized by the Union of Municipalities of Montenegro and the EU Committee of Regions, held the fifth meeting of the Joint Consultative Committee Committee of the Regions of the EU and Montenegro.

The session was co-chaired by Mr.Aleksandar Bogdanovic, Mayor of Cetinje and Mr.Hughie McGrath, a member of the Council of County Tipperary, Republic of Ireland. The session disscused on the Committee’s previous work of the current issues related to the local government system in Montenegro, in the context of European integration, and on perspective of joint action in this regard.

Along with representatives of the Committee of the Regions and the Union of Municipalities of Montenegro, the session was attended by mayors and representatives of the ontenegrin local government units, representatives of state institutions, the EU Delegation to Montenegro and other EU institutions.

In the introductory part of the session, participants were addressed by Mr.Mitja Drobnic, head of the EU Delegation to Montenegro, Mr.Aleksandar Andrija Pejovic, the State Secretary and Chief Negotiator for the Montenegro`s Accession to the European Union, Mr.Aleksandar Bogdanovic, Mayor of Old Royal Capital Cetinje and Mr.Hughie McGrath, Representative of the Committee of the Regions. Ambassador Drobnic reminded the importance of implementation of reforms at the local level as an important stage in the process of the European integration.

 – Local authorities are public institutions closest to the citizens, so they have a very important role in implementing reforms – assuming those reforms implemented in the context of accession to the European Union, but also those which are directed towards ensuring the overall development of the country. When we talk about the process of integration into the European Union and of the European Union, we have a tendency to perhaps too look to the central level enlargement countries. But in the end, reforms are needed at the local and regional level – said Ambassador Drobnič.

Chief Negotiator for the Montenegro’s Acession to EU Mr.Aleksandar Andrija Pejovic stressed that cooperation between the Union of Municipalities of Montenegro with the Committee of the Regions reinforces the institutional component of cooperation with the EU in the Stabilisation and Association process.

– Strengthening the dialogue and cooperation between regional and local governments of the EU with the local authorities of Montenegro, provide comprehensive preparation of Montenegro for the effective enforcement of the acquis. Therefore I can say that the Joint Consultative Committee indeed proved to be a good platform for the purpose of highlighting the most important reform processes of local governments. In cooperation with colleagues from the Committee of the Regions and the European Commission, representatives of local government units continuously exchanged experience and thus in the real sense are preparing for the duties following the date of accession – he said.

Mr.Aleksandar Bogdanovic, Mayor of Cetinje, emphasisied that during the last 12 months, the numerous measures has been undertaken to reform the system of local self-government in Montenegro.

– One of the most important activities related to the preparation of the Strategy of Public Administration and Local Self-Government for the period 2016 – 2020. The draft document has already been presented, followed by final version, but particularly encouraging isthe fact that the European Commission has already expressed its willingness to contribute to improved finalizing the document through specific activities. Bearing in mind the provisions of the draft concerning local government, can rightly conclude that the envisaged measures in the next four year will extraordinary impact on the further reforms, financial sustainability, implementation of public policies, human resource management and strengthening the organizational isusses of administration at the local level.

Another important moment in the past, is certainly, the fact that Montenegrin cities and municipalities have already started the process of financial and organizational restructuring. In this context, I would especially like to mention a responsible attitude of state financial institutions, and their incentives and support for local actors in order to implement the above mentioned part of the reforms – said Mayor Bogdanovic.

Representative of the Committee of the Regions and a member of the Council of County Tipperary Mr.Hughie McGrath accented the importance of the work of the Joint Consultative Committee in the light of further Montenegro’s path towards EU membership. – Although it has an advisory character, this Committee plays an important role in the enlargement process, or in the actual preparation of Montenegro to join the European Union. On the one hand, the implementation of a substantial part, or even the majority of European legal norms implies the involvement of local authorities, in order to to be more effective in delivering services to citizens. On the other hand, the local and regional authorities play multiple roles – to be a milestone of a functional democracy, to ensure the smooth running of a number of processes at the local level, to be the bearers of different forms of cooperation and the key partners in the creation of regional policy, but also subjects that will create conditions for investment and jobs. These are the reasons why our Committee act jointly in order to promote local and regional cooperation, encouraging local authorities to provide their full contribution to the process of European integration – said McGrath.

IMG_2336 (2)In the opinion of the Secretary General of the Union of Municipalities of Montenegro Mr.Refik Bojadzic, one of the key tasks facing local governments in our country is to improve their professional capacities.

– The importance of this issue was highlighted in a recent Council of Europe’s Report on the state of local democracy in Montenegro, which, among other things, recommended the establishment and implementation of sustainable human resources development systems in local government units, which will be adjusted to the local needs. Local governments today is characterized by a different level of development, which is in direct correlation with their administrative capacities. There is a surplus of employees, and in the pervious time decreased the municipal budgets, which limited and reduced opportunities for securing and allocating funds for professional training and development of employees. Despite, some local governments have modernized the HRM function, giving importance of a strategic objectives. Recognizing the need and importance of additional education and training of local employees, the Ministry of Interior, the Union of Municipalities of Montenegro, Human Resources Management Authority and local governments, in cooperation with international experts, prepared a Strategy for the professional development of local civil servants and employees in Montenegro in 2015 – 2018, as well as the Action Plan for its implementation – concluded Mr.Bojadzic.

During the two session’s meeting, issues related to human resources management and a regional and transnational cooperation were discussed. On the above mentioned issues at the fifth session of the Joint Consultative Committee of the Committee of the Regions and Montenegro, the atendees were addressed by: Mr.Andres Jadlo, a member of the Council of the City of Rakvere (Estonia), Ms.Dragana Ranitovic, Director General of the State and Local Administration in the Ministry of Interior of Montenegro, Ms.Ana Vukadinovic, Director of Directorate General for Coordination of EU Assistance Programs in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration of Montenegro, Mr.Nikola Dobroslavic, prefect of Dubrovnik – Neretva County (Croatia), Mr.Darko Mrvaljevic, coordinator of the Network of Municipal Project Managers of Montenegro and Mr.Emil Savov, a member of the Board of Directors of the Fund for local authorities (Bulgaria).

As highlighted at the end of the event, the sixth session of the Joint Consultative Committee will be held in April next year in Brussels.