GLPS held a discussion on the Rationalization of Independent Agencies in Kosovo, focusing on the reform of the Independent Regulatory Agencies

May 19, 2021

On May 19, Group for Legal and Political Studies (GLPS) held an online Roundtable Discussion on the topic: “Rationalization of Independent Agencies in Kosovo: A special focus on the reform of the Independent Regulatory Agencies”. The aim of this event was to discuss the ongoing reform process of independent agencies in Kosovo, while special emphasis was put on the rationalization of Independent Regulatory Agencies (IRAs).This reform was launched several years ago and has faced continuous challenges during the implementation. Particularly, while there is an ongoing reform in merging ministries due to downsizing, this is not the case with the independent agencies which, in addition to a large number, some of them exercise executive functions within the Assembly of Kosovo which are highly questionable of the constitutional principle of separation of power, while in others there is a complete lack of accountability.

At the beginning of the discussion, GLPS presented a Policy Note that discusses the complexity of the reform itself, and provides proposals how this reform should take place in some of the most multifaceted types of the existing independent regulatory agencies. First, the report discusses the reform process in general, the definition and functions of such agencies, the constitutional and legal basis, and the current state of play. Second, the report provides a number of recommendations for a successful reform process on this matter.

Following this, among other issues, the panelists were invited to discuss upon the proposed recommendations and future steps needed in ensuring a credible reform process of the independent agencies in Kosovo, especially for the regulatory agencies.

Mr. Shamolli, the author of the report, stated that the rationalization process started in 2016 and since then not much was achieved. Practically, the reform has stalled and there were many delays encountered to date. Although in the last two years there has been a downsizing process of the ministries, which is not the case with independent agencies. “For the reform to be successful there is a need for a strong political willingness and institutional commitment”, he added. Also, he put special focus on the legal requirements for the reform to be institutionalized, as many changes of the legal framework are needed for the reform to be impactful. “There are currently 32 agencies in the Assembly and 46 in the executive branch, but the problem is that in most cases the agencies exercise policy-making functions, there is a clear lack of lines of accountability, performance evaluation system, and oversight mechanisms”, he concluded.

On the other hand, Mr. Dobra, Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Internal Affairs in Kosovo stated that the rationalization process of independent agencies in Kosovo is one of the priorities and that it remains a highly significant process for the optimization of public administration in Kosovo. He also noted the concerning increase of independent agencies established since the declaration of independence, often overlapping each others’ functions, on top of lack of accountability and efficiency that frequently characterizes such bodies. “Our government is committed towards the rationalization process of independent agencies in Kosovo, acknowledging that there is a need of strong political and institutional for this reform to be successful. We have already started engaging with consultation processes with different relevant stakeholders, and will remain committed for the reform to happen as soon as possible”, he concluded.

In addition, Ms. Luigi Brusa, Head of Cooperation Section at the European Union Office in Kosovo stated that the Kosovo institutions were reluctant to engage with the reform, despite the EU’s constant support provided since 2017. “Good governance and efficient public administration are basic requirements for the EU accession, which is why we put a lot of energy in these programs, in particular in the reform of agencies. However, the results have been lacking in Kosovo, and nothing happened so far”, he added. He concluded that the rationalization process is a very complex one, and there is a need for a high institutional and political commitment for the reform to happen and survive the pressure of different agencies opposing the dissolving process.

At the same line, Jesper Johnson, a Senior Policy Analyst at SIGMA/OECD agreed with Mr. Brusa on the lack of concrete results when it comes to the rationalization process of regulatory agencies in Kosovo. “This is a landmark reform not only for Kosovo, but the whole Western Balkans region in terms of EU accession and preparedness to join the EU. Unfortunately, results are missing, and Kosovo should immediately undertake concrete steps to improve the situation”, he stated.  He also highlighted the fact that, in Kosovo, the whole tendency towards emphasizing the value of autonomy of the agencies has meant that there is very little accountability for many public agencies and you cannot implement policies. And at the end you are not accountable to the citizens for service delivery and government policies.

In conclusion, the panelists agreed that the rationalization process should be the top priority of the ministry, and that concrete results should be evident in the near future. This reform remains highly important for the Kosovo’s EU path, thus, there should be an increased institutional and political will to push forward this important process.

Panelist:

Mr. Bardhyl DOBRA – Deputy Minister, Ministry of Internal Affairs in Kosovo;

Mr. Luigi BRUSA – Head of the Cooperation Section, EU Office in Kosovo/EUSR;

Mr. Jesper Johnson – Senior Policy Analyst, SIGMA/OECD;

Mr. Naser SHAMOLLI – Senior Research Fellow, Group for Lega and Political Studies.

Venue: Online (Zoom Platform)

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