The CSOs representatives agreed that in the majority of cases, the institutions are not sufficiently open for cooperation with the CSOs. This especially refers to the cases when the affected CSO did not have any prior cooperation with the specific institution. The CSOs also agreed that the institutions rarely accept CSOs’ prepared recommendations for certain legal decisions or policies. Additionally, even when the institutions did accept some of the remarks submitted by the CSOs, those remarks were most often only technical and rarely substantial.
These are part of the conclusions from the first Agora Session on the topic of “Participatory Policy-Making”, held on 15 July 2015, in Hotel “Karposh”, Skopje. Many experts and CSOs representatives with experience and knowledge in the process of participatory policy-making participated on the session. During the session, they exchanged their different opinions and experiences regarding the participatory policy-making in Macedonia.
Part of the CSOs representatives believe that CSOs participation in the policy-making process is often only formal i.e. that the aim of the institutions through such participation is to only legitimize their Bill decisions, without hereupon seriously reviewing the submitted remarks and recommendations by the CSOs.
In regards to ENER (Single National Electronic Registry of Regulations), a tool for electronic informing of the citizens on the existing regulations, bills of the ministries in preparatory phase and reports from the conducted regulatory impact assessment – RIA, where visitors can participate through submitting comments and remarks on the existing solutions, the CSOs believe that although there is a possibility for participation through such mechanism, yet its use is still small and insufficient. However, the CSOs representatives agreed that there is an improvement in ENER’s efficiency, compared to 2012, when the institutions did not even upload the regulatory impact assessments (RIAs) on the electronic registry and when they more often ignored the comments of the citizens.
The personal relationship with the officials in the affected institutions was pointed out as an important factor, enabling CSOs to have a bigger influence in the policy-making process.
The findings and conclusions from the discussion will be used by the Institute for Democracy “Societas Civilis” – Skopje, for preparing a public policy brief, which will set guidelines for improving the efficiency, but also the advocacy goals of civil society in the field of “participatory policy-making”.
This event was organized within the project “Agora Sessions”, implemented by the Institute for Democracy “Societas Civilis” – Skopje (IDSCS) and financed by the British Embassy in Skopje.