Sunday, May 19, 2024

DURATION OF NEGOTIATIONS: WILL WE BE PART OF THE EU IN 2030?

It is precisely the process of negotiations with the EU that will impose the necessary reforms in the administration of the aspiring countries. These countries, which went through a long process of democratic transition, seem to still have a part of the legacy of the communist mentality, where the administrator was the boss of the citizen, and not the other way around.

Author: Xhelal Neziri

Politicians elected to various positions are often also amateurs. Even without basic knowledge of the countries where they are elected by direct vote or by the votes of the elected. This is not an unknown phenomenon in democratic systems. In contrast to monist systems, where politicians were required to conduct their respective schools, in democracy the one who collects the most votes wins. Not infrequently, a politician can be a citizen without a higher education, a farmer, a worker, or with professional training that does not match the function for which he was elected. Therefore, the main locomotive of a democratic state is precisely the state administration, or bureaucracy. In democratic elections, a political platform or vision is legitimized, personified in the politician at the head of the institution, who is supported by layers of professional bureaucrats for the realization of his vision. Well-known political theorists Juan Linz and Alfred Stepan, in their book “Post-Communist Europe: Problems of Democratic Transition and Consolidation”, say that bureaucrats are not democrats per se, but they have the task of making democracies functional and efficient.

Last week I was part of a delegation in Brussels, where I had the opportunity to closely follow the clarification sessions between the representatives of Macedonia and the North and Albania, on the one hand, and those of the European Union (EU), on the other. The meetings were related to the Green Agenda cluster, where the European Commission (EU) presents the latest changes to its laws in order for the country to harmonize them during the negotiation process. The project was implemented by UNOPS and supported by Nordic Support for Progress of North Macedonia. These sessions that take place within the screening process, as a prelude to the opening of chapters from the six clusters of the negotiation process for membership, serve Brussels to understand the level of harmonization of national laws in Skopje and Tirana with European ones. At the same time, it is much easier for EC officials to understand the capacities of the local administration to implement in practice all harmonization with European laws, otherwise known as “acquis communautaire”.

Therefore, it is precisely the process of negotiations with the EU that will impose the necessary reforms in the administration of the aspiring countries. These countries, which went through a long process of democratic transition, seem to have still preserved a part of the legacy of the communist mentality, where the administrator was the boss of the citizen, and not the other way around. This report promoted conformity among employees in the administration, which was then promoted as a privilege in society since “the work of the state enables high salaries, with very little effort”. This mentality is still present to this day, especially if you look at the latest surveys where the state job continues to be the most preferred by people looking for work.

North Macedonia last year opened EU membership talks, starting the screening process. The same must be completed by the end of this year, when it will start with the opening of the first clusters (provided that by then the Constitution is changed to include ethnic Bulgarians in it, as part of the obligation received from the French Proposal). When the negotiation process is finished, then the country will become part of the EU. The government of Skopje expects this to happen by 2030. A rather ambitious plan, especially considering that Serbia and Montenegro opened negotiations 10 years ago but are still far from closing all the chapters. Senior officials in Brussels assured us that, in the case of North Macedonia, the timing of the opening and closing of the six clusters with 35 chapters will largely depend on the country’s political and institutional capacity to harmonize the country’s laws with the acquis. to approve them in Parliament, to implement them in practice and to show the expected results.

The last two dimensions depend mainly on the capacity of the state administration and on the level of democratization of the institutions. Administration is the machinery that makes a state work in order to fulfill its primary goal – to serve the citizens. A state can be counted as a failure if it fails to protect basic human freedoms, ensure a dignified life, ensure equality and cultivate basic democratic values. Therefore, a functional public administration is a prerequisite for transparent and effective democratic governance.

The concept of “good governance” is the basis that the EC has set as a criterion for the admission of new members to the EU, and the same is included in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. This concept includes the four basic prerequisites, such as reliability, predictability, accountability and transparency, but also leadership competencies, organizational capacity, financial sustainability and citizen participation.

Although the criteria of good governance are universal, these principles are designed for countries that want to join the EU and that receive assistance from the EU through the Instrument for Pre-Accession (IPA). In addition to EU accuis or directives, the principles of good governance also derive from international standards, requirements and practices of EU states and member countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The capacity of an administration is measured by the level of effective implementation of these basic principles. It is not enough only to implement the rule of law, but also the functioning of democratic institutions, which focus on the citizen and not the party or the policies themselves. Without these capacities, North Macedonia will not reach the effective implementation of the EU acquis, which originates from the criteria defined by the European Council in Copenhagen (1993) and Madrid (1995).

Të fundit