Newsletter 21/2012 - Our South East Europe
Moving cooperation in South East Europe closer: RCC looks at its own impact
Adoption of the RCC Strategy and Work Programme (SWP) 2011-2013 at the RCC Annual Meeting and at the Summit of the South-East European Cooperation Process (SEECP) Heads of State and Government in Istanbul on 23 June 2010 marked the commencement of a new stage in the development and operational work of the RCC Secretariat.
2011 was the first year of implementation of the SWP 2011-2013 but it also marked a significant shift in operations of the organisation - from the transitional period from the Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe to a well-set, flexible, and regionally owned organisation with deployed multifold activities and recognised factor of regional development in South East Europe.
In order to get objective assessment of the fulfilment of the ambitiously set objectives, as well as to estimate wider relevance, impact and sustainability of the activities performed, the RCC Secretariat prepared its self-assessment report.
The report assesses efficiency and effectiveness of the RCC Secretariat and provides analysis, conclusions and recommendations to assist better implementation of the next phase of the SWP in 2012-2013 and programming of the RCC’s strategy for the next period 2014-2016.
Self-assessment Report on the first year of implementation of the RCC Strategy and Work Programme 2011-2013 considers the general context for evaluating regional cooperation in SEE that was framed by political factors: EU enlargement dynamics, SEECP as the main regional political platform and open bilateral issues in the region.
The key segment of the report concentrates on several specific objectives: an assessment to which extent the SWP is based on a balanced and comprehensive planning process; a detailed judgement on the performance in each priority area and related activities; and based on conclusions and lessons learned, an outline of corrective measures to improve implementation and monitoring of ongoing actions as well as future programming.
The SWP identified 22 distinct objectives in the main priority areas (economic and social development, infrastructure and energy, justice and home affairs, security cooperation, building human capital and parliamentary cooperation) to be met by the end of 2013.
“The implementation of these objectives is on-track. Out of 22 objectives, 16 have been accomplished between 30% and 70%, measured against performance and timing planned in the Work Programme. One objective is already fully accomplished, while one has been dropped due to the lack of interest by SEE countries. The remaining 4 objectives have been accomplished between 10% and 25%”, reads the report.
While identifying strengths and weaknesses, the report underlines that although SWP significantly helped regional cooperation in different areas the RCC activities should be more focused and coherent, to have more inter-sector and multi-stakeholder approach. The Strategy needs more measurable and specific indicators in order to better evaluate its results.
Other weaknesses that emerged as the main obstacles to unhindered implementation of the SWP are: fragmentation, lack of coordination, insufficient institutional capacity in the region; lack of willingness and cooperation of national authorities and uneven development of different areas of cooperation; insufficient alignment of the region with the EU, especially through enlargement package; communication should be given a more strategic role; additional resources are necessary for the SWP implementation and for boosting RCC’s administrative and organisational capacity, as well as the improvement of internal operational coordination.
To the positive side, the report stresses that continuous institutional consultations became an effective instrument in regional cooperation; high participation of stakeholders in the RCC activities mostly met expectations of the regional partners and notably developed RCC analytical capacities and expertise.
In order to facilitate and further advance implementation of the SWP, the self-assessment report issues a set of recommendations that include: a need for a constant political commitment; focus to be given to consolidating cooperation mechanisms in the RCC priority areas and linking them with the political “chapeau” at national and regional levels; continuation of regular contacts and consultations with the European Commission (EC)’s Directorate General for Enlargement in order to precisely identify the impact of closer affiliation of the RCC with the horizontal enlargement agenda, as well as with other EC Directorates General, the European External Action Service (EEAS), Presidency of the Council of the EU and the European Parliament; providing the RCC with a longer-term view through stronger focus on the EU Enlargement Strategy and Europe 2020 strategy; alignment of its activities with broader strategies and making it possible to quantify the work; more structured ongoing regional dialogue; etc.
“The RCC would benefit of a more direct and concrete role within the EU enlargement process in the Western Balkans and needs a stronger leverage from the EU institutions in terms of being recognised, promoted and supported as a key instrument for introducing and implementing regional approach to economic recovery and development”, concludes the report.
The results achieved so far, general political and economic context, as well as a clear vision will to a large extent shape the strategic orientation of the RCC for the period beyond 2013.
“The vision-building process and identifying priorities of future regional cooperation will be launched through comprehensive and transparent consultations with all relevant stakeholders in the region, in particular the national authorities, regional initiatives and task forces and main donors, primarily the European Commission.”