On 11 June 2018, the RCC, ReSPA and the Centre for Public Administration Research (KDZ) organised the conference „Unlocking Benefits of Public Participation“ in Vienna. The conference took place within the framework of the BACID II programme and aimed at raising awareness for regional quality standards in citizens participation in the Western Balkans.
According to the Balkan Barometer 2017, almost half of the population in the Western Balkans is sceptical towards participatory decision-making proceses. 47% of citizens has the impression that their opinion is not considered in political decisions. This lack of trust in political authorities and participatory processes often is the result of poorly designed and/or implemented participatory policy-making procedures.
Against this background, the RCC and ReSPA formed a partnership that addresses participatory governance in the Western Balkans. In 2017, the ministers in charge of public administration reform in the countries of the Western Balkan endorsed a set of guidelines and rules to design participatory decision-making processes in public policy-making. These rules are put down in the "Western Balkans Recommendation on Public Participation in Policy-Making Process". The Recommendations are the result of a joint work with the region's economies based on a need for greater involvement and stronger role of the public and civil society in legislative and policy-making processes and were made to encourage and assist governments to design policies and legislation in an inclusive manner, enabling an active participation of society, including non-governmental organisations, private sector and advisory bodies.
The BACID conference "Unlocking Benefits of public participation in decision-making" gathered representatives from ministries responsible for justice, public administration reform and European integration in order to discuss key aspects and success factors for citizen participation. The participants agreed on the need for transparency and trust in public policy as a prerequiite for participatoiry governance. At the same time, the participants admitted that there is a great need for action to realise this objective.