Support to the Secretariat for European Affairs

Project description

Title: Support to the Secretariat for European Affairs in Macedonia
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Macedonia
Lead executing agency: Secretariat for European Affairs (SEA)
Overall term: 2013 to 2015

Context

Macedonia has been a candidate for membership of the European Union since December 2005. The European commission first recommended initiating accession negotiations in 2009. Since then, it has repeated this recommendation five times, most recently in the Progress Report of 08 October 2014. However, the European Council has not passed a corresponding decision. Preparations by the Macedonian Government and administration for the accession talks have made significant progress, but have now begun to stall.

In March 2012, the European Commission launched the High Level Accession Dialogue with the Macedonian Government. This is intended to move the EU integration process to the centre of Macedonia's political agenda. The aim of the dialogue is to enable the core reform measures to be addressed in a structured manner. Since the elections of early 2014, it has become clear that the European Commission does not intend to pursue the Accession Dialogue in its current form for the time being. Nevertheless, it recommends that work should continue on the most pressing issues – including promoting the rule of law, ensuring freedom of the media, implementing public administration reforms and strengthening the market economy – and that communication channels to the European institutions should remain open.

Objective

The Secretariat for European Affairs (SEA) is more effective in coordinating and steering the EU approximation process.

Approach

This project concentrates on three areas of activity.

  1. It advises the SEA on its core task of coordinating the accession process, and in supporting, guiding and monitoring related activities. The SEA is the Macedonian Government’s central coordinating body in the EU accession process. It is subordinate to the Deputy Prime Minister for European Affairs, who is responsible for EU integration.
  2. It supports the working group on political criteria, administrative reform, economic criteria and Chapters 23 and 24 of the Community acquis. The Community acquis is the body of European law built up over the history of the Union which a country must adopt as a prerequisite for accession.
  3. It provides strategic and conceptual advice to the members of the SEA and other institutions responsible for EU integration, and delivers training in topics agreed in the context of the High-Level Accession Dialogue.

Results

The role of the SEA in managing and coordinating the NPAA – the National Programme for the Adoption of the Community acquis – has been enhanced. Proposals have been developed for a new draft of the government decision, detailing the composition, structure, tasks and approaches of the working group on the chapters of the acquis.

With the procurement of 23 licences for the software Trados, which supports translation work and the training of translators, the SEA has taken an important step towards ensuring it has the technical capacity and expertise to complete a national version of the Community acquis.

The sector coordinators at the SEA have received training in strategic and policy analysis. They are now in a better position to advise the line ministries on their reporting procedures, and to coordinate them. At a strongly practice-oriented workshop, current reports for the government and the EU were revised. This activity further strengthened the reporting competencies of the coordinators.

Following advice from Slovenian and Croatian police and border protection personnel, the Europe division of the Interior Ministry has submitted revised versions of the country's laws on aliens and on border controls, which accord with the relevant EU guidelines.