Challenges to Strategic Government

A case study of Montenegro, presentation at the Transylvanian International Conference in Public Administration, Cluj-Napoca, 2 November 2017

Cluj-Napoca panorama

The European Union encourages and expects its prospective new member states to establish systems of medium-term strategic planning. A meaningful strategic planning process that involves informed choices of priorities and changing existing practices of policymaking is, however, difficult to institutionalize. The chapter sequence of EU accession negotiations pre-defines a policy agenda, leaving little scope for endogenously determined policy priorities. Commitments taken in cooperations with other external donors / actors require tailored strategic planning activities that tend to occur in parallel, emerging from line ministries and usually without prior coordination between departments. Existing routines of planning and budgeting need to be reorganized and adapted which also implies redefining the roles played by coordinating institutions. Ministers and their political advisors need to be convinced and familiarized with the new planning process, which is often associated with changing institutional culture. read more

Crisis Trajectories and Patterns of Resilience in East-Central and Southeast Europe

Presentation at the Conference “Disintegration and integration in East-Central Europe“, Faculty of European Studies, Babeș-Bolyai University Cluj-Napoca, 26-27 October 2017

Babeș-Bolyai University Cluj-Napoca

The subsequent economic and refugee crises have questioned the promise of prosperity and security associated with European integration. Governments in East-Central and Southeast Europe struggled to bridge between the diverging policy expectations of voters on the one hand, international economic and political actors on the other. The weakened credibility of mainstream political parties provided opportunities for populist and anti-establishment mobilization. While these crisis-induced influences have been similar in all countries of the region, the extent to which populist challengers have been able to win elections and implement their preferred policy preferences has varied significantly across countries. read more

Assessing the Fundamentals of EU Accession

A civil society monitoring for Montenegro

Andrija Pejović, Minister of European Affairs (right), and Dragan Koprivica (Center for Democratic Transition) during the presentation of the reports

In 2015, the European Union redesigned its enlargement policy to focus on the rule of law, public administration and civic rights.  These “fundamentals” are required to meet the criteria of membership and constitute the  preconditions for a sustainable modernization of the Western Balkan states. The European Commission has monitored the state of reforms on the basis of consultations with government officials and external observers.

To involve civil society in this assessment and to provide better evidence for public debates, a Montenegrin think tank, the Center for Democratic Transition (CDT), has surveyed 41 experts and analyzed publicly available data. Drawing on the Commission’s new standardized assessment scales, CDT and I developed detailed questionnaires that assess the following areas: functioning of the judiciary; fight against corruption; fight against organized crime; media freedom; public administration reform; human rights. The results of these surveys are now published in two reports. read more

The Quality of Democracy in East-Central and Southeast Europe

Paper presented at the Conference “Measuring Democracy: What are We Measuring and How Does CEE Fit in?, Institute of Sociology, Czech Academy of Sciences, Prague 21-22 September 2017

The young democracies in East-Central and Southeast Europe have been particularly susceptible to the wave of populist, anti-establishment and extremist political forces that now challenge liberal democracy across the globe. The new challengers claim to represent the opinion of the ordinary people against a political establishment that is often portrayed as corrupt, elitist and controlled by foreign interests. Their polarizing and unifying ideological stances have contributed to a more confrontational political competition. Several countries have also seen an erosion of the institutions and mechanisms that constrain and scrutinize the exercise of executive authority. Illiberal policies have targeted opposition parties, parliaments, independent public watchdog institutions, judiciaries, local and regional self-government, mass media, civil society organizations, private business and minority communities. read more

Core Executives in Central Europe

Handbook of East European Politics, ed. by P. Kopecký and A. Fagan, London: Routledge

Core executives have become increasingly important political actors and arenas due to several interlinked developments affecting both states and societies. Modernisation has weakened the ties between political parties and voters, making parties more dependent on state resources and, in particular, access to government. Since the political process has become more dominated by media communication, political controversy tends to be framed between chief executives and rival political leaders. Global economic integration has narrowed the policy discretion of nation states and fostered the spread of non-majoritarian institutions entrusted with regulatory functions. These trends have been associated with the growing weight of policy output as a source of legitimacy, in contrast to “input legitimacy” derived from democratic elections. Among the three branches of state power, executives control most of the tools available to influence policy outputs and the interventions of both domestic and international regulatory agencies. The crisis and politicisation of European integration have further enhanced the salience of national (chief) executives compared to national legislatures and supranational institutions. As a result, many of the choices characterising politics and policymaking are now made or shaped at the centres of executives. read more

Prospects of a Dialogue on Kosovo

Interview with Aleksandra Nenadović, Voice of America, 26 July 2017

On 24 July 2017 Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vučić called for an “internal dialogue” on Kosovo. His article triggered an intense public debate and a large media echo within and beyond Serbia because he urged his fellow-citizens to face reality and stop waiting to be given “what we have lost a long time ago”.  Serbia should cease to preserve “a conflict whose meaning we do not understand” and should rather resolve the “Kosovo (Gordian) knot” in a responsible and non-violent way. read more

The Conditional Impact of Democracy Conditions

How the European Union interacts with political competition in Eastern Partnership countries

Studia Europaea, 62 1 2017, 141-160

In the debate about the European Neighbourhood Policy, two positions may be distinguished: those who propose a stricter and more consistent use of democratic conditionality, prioritizing democracy over other EU objectives – and those who refuse to set compliance with democratic standards as a precondition for support, expecting democracy to emerge from closer linkages. The paper argues that both positions do not sufficiently recognize the selective effectiveness of EU conditionality. Democracy conditions can become effective if (1) dense societal, economic and cultural ties with the EU support their domestic acceptance  and (2) ruling political elites are faced with a competitive opposition. read more

Bachelor Graduation Ceremony at Cluj University

On 27 May 2017, the Faculty of European Studies at Babes-Bolyai University Cluj held its annual Bachelor graduation ceremony. Professionally prepared by our students, the event turned out to be both solemn and lighthearted – a balance rarely achieved in German academic culture.

I was very delighted to award our students with their graduation diploma, recognizing three years of tough work and intellectual exchange in our German-language European Studies program.

Herausforderungen der Trump-Administration für die EU

Podiumsdiskussion mit Ellen Bos und Daniel Göler, Andrássy Universität Budapest, 19.5.2017

Die Wahl des neuen amerikanischen Präsidenten bedeutet eine Zäsur für die Europäische Union, weil Donald Trump im Wahlkampf und vor seiner Amtseinführung die Fundamente der transatlantischen Kooperation in Frage gestellt hat. In seiner Kampagne gegen das Washingtoner Establishment erklärte Trump die NATO für obsolet und die EU für gescheitert, unterstützte EU-Gegner und begrüßte das britische Austrittsreferendum, lehnte das transatlantische Freihandelsabkommen TTIP ab und kündigte einen Ausstieg aus dem Pariser Klimaschutzabkkommen an. read more

Key to Implementing Minsk: the OSCE

An interview with Kateryna Ivanova, Deutsche Welle, Russian language service, 19 May 2017

In September 2014 and February 2015, the Ukrainian government and the Russia-backed separatists in Eastern Ukraine agreed on a cease-fire and a set of measures to transform the conflict into a territorial autonomy settlement for the occupied Russian-speaking region inside Ukraine. The implementation of these so-called Minsk Agreements is, however, blocked by the conflicting parties’ unwillingness to negotiate a sequence of steps for holding free and fair elections in a secure environment. Kyiv insists on re-establishing Ukraine’s control over the border between Russia and the separatist-controlled areas in order to stop the inflow of weapons and fighters and to guarantee the security of local voters. In contrast, Moscow and the separatists prefer to hold elections first. read more