Held conference „Open government in Croatia – look to the future”

Slika /pics/POV/Helena Beus.JPG

Government Office for Cooperation with NGOs (GOfNGOs) as the National Contact Point of the Partnership for Open Government Initiative and the National Contact Point for the Union programme CERV organised the conference “Open government in Croatia - look to future”.

GOfNGOs as the National Contact Point of the Partnership for Open Government Initiative and the National Contact Point for the Union programme CERV organised the conference “Open government in Croatia - look to future” on 19 December 2023. The conference was hold in hybrid mode, in Hotel Zonar Zagreb and gathered about fifty of public authorities, civil society organisations and experts.

Considering the Croatia ends the drawing up the 4th OGP Initiative Action Plan, the conference provided interested representatives of public authorities, CSOs with an overview its implementation as well as the look into some current trends in open government, as inspiration for the preparation of a new Action Plan. Helena Beus, authorised to perform the duties of the Director of GOfNGOs opened the conference expressing her wish that the event will serve as an incentive for numerous positive developments in building open and inclusive communities.
State Secretary Andreja Metelko - Zgombić, the President of the OGP Initiative Council (the Council) recalled some important steps towards open government that Croatia took through the Initiative: the e-Citizens project and the e-Consultation portal, which were also recognised on international level. She also emphasized some highlights in the present Action plan: the establishment of a media fact-checking system, the adoption of an Action Plan along with the Strategy for the Prevention of Corruption, and drafted proposals for laws on lobbying and laws on referendums.
Nemanja Relić, authorised to perform the duties of the Head of the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister in his speech pointed out some new challenges related to transparency such as new technologies. He also expressed wish that the event would serve as the platform for the exchange of ideas as well as encouragement of synergies and structural dialogue in shaping the future priorities of the Initiative in Croatia.
Saša Šegrt, as the Initiative contact in Croatia, informed the message of the Initiative Global Summit the participants should foster resilience of institutions and citizens and provide them with the skills to deal with the challenges in today’s high-risk environment. She also pointed out that the Partnership for Open Government has so far served as an incubator for testing various innovative ideas.
Member of the Council, Mihaela Bronić, Ph.D, from the Institute for Public Finance, presented the progress that Croatia has made in the area of fiscal transparency from 2012 to the present. Mis Bronić evaluated that through the synergistic action of the Institute for Public Finance and the Ministry of Finance, but also thanks to the engagement of the Croatian County Association, Association of Cities and Croatian Union of Municipalities, fiscal transparency has improved significantly. The next step is to encourage greater participation of citizens, media, trade unions, politicians and scientists in monitoring budget processes and the credibility of the budget. The presentation of Miss Bronić has initiated a series of questions and comments from the audience.
In the second part of the event, Sandra Pernar, Senior Regional Coordinator of the Initiative for the Europe, presented the new global Strategy of the Initiative for the period 2023 to 2028. Miss Pernar presented the recommendations for the development of a new Action plan, which Independent Reporting Mechanism prepared for Croatia based on insight into the Republic of Croatia (RoC) former action plans, as well as the current trends and findings from the global action plan implementation.
José María Marín, Senior Program Advisor for the Open Local Government Program, addressed the gathering via video link. In his presentation, Mr Marín presented a number of successful examples of open local governments but also the current competition for the inclusion of local self-government units in the Initiative Join OGP Local: Call for Expression of Interest 2023 (opengovpartnership.org). The Call is opened till 26 January 2024 and all municipalities, cities and counties are invited to consider the possibility of including of their local communities in OGP.
Adna Karamehić-Oates, Head of the Policies and Partnerships in the Initiative, also participated via video link and briefly presented the activities related to combating climate change that the participants of the Initiative include in their action plans.
Željka Markulin, representatives of the GOfNGOs National Contact Point for the Union Programme CERV then briefly presented the CERV Programme to the participants, with an emphasis of financing possibilities to the local self-government activities.