From 17-19 September 2012, the representatives of 4 CSOs from Western Balkans attended a study visit in Brussels, as a part of the Slovak Balkan Public Policy Fund (SBPPF). SBPPF is a pilot initiative aiming to support young researchers and CSOs to strengthen their advocacy capacities in the EU integration process implemented by Pontis Foundation, Slovakia and BCSDN and financial supported by SlovakAid. During the visit, each participant took part in a specially designed program for advocacy in order to further develop their advocacy skills , based on a policy paper developed within the grant support.
The Consumer Organization of Macedonia, Front 21/42 from Macedonia, CEDEM and the Institute Alternative from Montenegro, were the grantees which participated at the study visit. The programme was envisaged as a tailor made meetings with EU officials, organizations and networks that are of benefit for the selected organizations. They all had the opportunity to strengthen the cooperation with EU counterparts and present briefly the findings of their policy papers: “Consumer Friendly” Energy Bills (Consumer Organization Macedonia); “From theoretical to Real-Life Industrial Pollution Control” – Research on the Implementation and Enforcement of the IPPC Directive in Macedonia and Policy Paper for Improvements (Citizens Association Front 21/42) ;“European Integration of Montenegro: Strengthening Independency and Impartiality of Montenegrin Judiciary” (CEDEM) and “Parliament and CSOs – Partners in Budget Scrutiny” –(Institute Alternative).
Ms Aleksandra Bujarovska (Front 21/42), met Prof McGlade, Executive Director of the European Environmental Agency, Ms. Karin Maandi, DG Enlargement, in charge for environment and energy issues in the Macedonian unit, as well as Ms Louise Duprez, Policy Officer dealing with Air, Industrial emissions and Noise at the European Environmental Bureau. She had the opportunity to discuss the permit issuing in Macedonia and to raise awareness of individual cases taking place at the moment. While Ms. McGlade proposed new technology solutions for wider information and getting bigger public support, the other meetings focused more on the general practices in the EU context and the EU pressure mechanisms s aside from those of the national governments.
CSO representatives from CEDEM, Montenegro, and representatives of the Institute Alternative met Ms. Plamena Halacheva from the DG Enlargement, Political desk Montenegro and Mr.Charles Tannock, European Parliament’ Rapporteur for Montenegro. Ms Marija Vuksanovic (CEDEM) had a meeting with Amnesty International Policy Officer that deals with the Western Balkans, Mr. David Nichols, while Mr. Marko Sosic (Institute Alternativa) had a meeting with Corina Stratulat representing the European Policy Institute. These meetings were an opportunity to discuss the topics of their work as well as the general situation in Montenegro regarding the coming elections. In addition, there were discussions on the parliamentary committees, the judiciary reforms and the Constitution. Unfortunately, MEP Tannock did not have the opportunity to meet Montenegrin CSOs, but he has shown great interest to meet larger group of CSOs in Montenegro.
Ms Marijana Lonchar Velkovska,Chair of the Consumers Organization of Macedonia, met Ms Chiara Giovannini, Senior Manager for Policy & Innovation – ANEC, the European consumer voice in standardization as well as Mr Karin Maandi, DG Enlargement, in charge of energy issues. She also met the Head of Unit of the DG SANCO’s Consumer Strategy Unit Ms. Tornblom and Mr Stephan Grech, in charge of International Affairs. She discussed membership in ANEC and involvement of WB representatives in the Consumers Strategy planning of the EC, with regards to support of the EC to the development of these strategies. She also had the opportunity to present the policy paper and the energy issues in Macedonia, a topic that is subject of heated debates at the moment.
At the end of the visit, all CSOs representatives had a joint meeting with the Slovak Representation to the EC, (Mr. Lubomir Batary who deals with Macedonia and Dr. Marek Brenicic, First Secretary, Permanent Representation of the Slovak Republic to the EU, who deals with Montenegro issues). They also had the opportunity to meet Mr. Eduard Kukan, Chair of the European Parliament’ Delegation for relations with Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro and Kosovo and the Shadow Rapporteur for Macedonia for the EPP parliamentary group.
A compilation of previously published policy papers is available here. The participant’s testimonials will be published soon.