A case study of Montenegro, presentation at the Transylvanian International Conference in Public Administration, Cluj-Napoca, 2 November 2017
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.
In my talk, I discussed these challenges by drawing on information collected during various consultations with civil servants in the Government of Montenegro. Montenegro constitutes a crucial case because it is considered to be a frontrunner among the Western Balkan EU accession candidates. Like other Southeast European countries, Montenegro lacks administrative capacity due to the small size of its public administration and tightening fiscal constraints due to its growing public debt.