2nd Regional CBC Forum
The 1st Regional Forum organized by CBIB in Zagreb, on March 23rd 2007 was aimed at providing clarifications regarding the IPA Implementing Rules and the programming process for candidate/potential candidate countries directly involved in IPA CBC at Western Balkan internal borders. The Forum in Zagreb proved to be an essential platform for formulating questions and joint concerns and obtaining responses and clarifications from the EC representatives. It also set the basis for the organization of the second consultative Regional Forum, which targeted a similar audience and covered topics related to the management and implementation of IPA CBC programmes.
The 2nd CBC Regional Forum, held on June 26th and 27th 2008 in the Holiday Inn in Skopje, provided the opportunity for successful networking and exchange of ideas and best practices among the stakeholders in the wider region, while also enabling a direct link to the Commission and answers to the main issues.
The main objective of the Forum was to support the ongoing implementation of the IPA CBC programmes and to precise the unclear aspects of their management.
Furthermore, the 2nd Regional Forum provided the opportunity for participants to:
- present the progress made so far and bottlenecks that Western Balkan countries have encountered in the process;
- receive clarifications for the main issues related to the management and implementation of IPA CBC programmes: joint structures (role of the JMC; administrative set up of the JTS, antennae, training of JTS staff), launching the first Calls for Proposals (requirements for drafting the CfP, eligibility rules), project evaluation (criteria and basic rules, the Steering Committee, assessors), monitoring and visibility, and the TA for the IPA CBC programmes (rules, procedures and deadlines for contracting, managing the grant contracts under CARDS 2005/2006);
- engage in open debate and raise their issues concerning management and implementation.
All IPA CBC stakeholders in the region took active participation in the 2nd CBC Regional Forum and a total number of registered participants, including the CBIB team, was 104. Participants included representatives of Western Balkan National Authorities directly involved in the implementation of the programmes, Joint Management Structures (JMC members and JTS and antennae staff), National TA teams, Contracting Authorities (EC Delegations from all WB countries), representatives of EAR offices, and the representatives of the European Commission.
In addition, municipal authorities and non-governmental organizations from the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia also attended the Regional Forum.
There was an extensive media coverage of the opening session of the seminar, which included five TV Stations, radio stations, daily newspapers and two information agencies ( from Albania and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) – TV ALSAT M.
General description of the event:
The 2nd Regional CBC Forum was officially opened by Ms. Malinka Ristevska Jordanova, State Counselor, Secretariat for European Affairs, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and by Mr. Erwan Fouéré, Ambassador, Special Representative of the European Union and Head of the Delegation of the European Commission to the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
Mrs. Natasa Gospodjinacki, CBIB Team Leader, presented the agenda and the objectives of the Forum and acted as a moderator during the whole event.
The two days of the Forum consisted of the introductory session, where beneficiary countries presented progress made, and four thematic working sessions. After each working session participants had the opportunity to pose their questions and to engage in discussions. Therefore, the Forum was structured as an interactive process in order to initiate debate and dialogue and to enrich discussions on CBC in the region, where participants were strongly encouraged to bring forward their experiences and to identify practical issues which best illustrate the various challenges, opportunities and lessons learned in management and implementation of IPA CBC programmes.
In two days, the following topics were discussed:
- IPA CBC in Western Balkan Countries – Progress made and bottlenecks;
- Management of the CBC Programmes;
- Launching first calls for proposals;
- Project proposals: evaluation and selection;
- Technical Assistance to the cross-border programmes;
- CBC communication and networking in the region.
During the forum, major issues regarding the management and implementation of the programme were clarified. At the same time, the Forum created an opportunity for all participants to network, cooperate, and learn from each other.
In the upcoming months, the first Calls for proposals for all cross-border programmes will be launched in the region and at that point the number of the actors involved in the process will be increased. There will be a need to organize similar events for the same audience with addition of beneficiaries and potential beneficiaries of the programmes. Similar events would create a platform for exchange of experience and clarification of management issues and would lead to the more effective and efficient implementation of programmes.
The successful and effective implementation of projects and programmes would contribute to the economic prosperity, political stability and security in the Western Balkan region.