European Commission notes achievements toward more accountable, inclusive democracy in North Macedonia
The new European Commission Country Report on North Macedonia 2020 highlights the progress made by the Parliament of North Macedonia towards more inclusive and accountable democracy in the past year. The report notes two achievements which were supported by Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD) and its partners in the country: improvements made by the introduction of the Parliamentary Budget Office and the adoption of the Declaration for Active Political Participation of Persons with Disabilities.
According to the European Commission, "the Parliament operated in greater transparency and used its oversight functions, restoring checks and balances over the executive." In considering progress made towards greater protection of human rights, the report noted "cross-party declaration on the right of persons with disabilities to participate in the political processes."
WFD has been working to strengthen democracy in North Macedonia since 2008. Recently, under its Western Balkans Democracy Initiative, WFD has been working to help make public spending more efficient and effective and to increase the political participation of marginalised groups, such as persons with disabilities.
According to the European Commission report, the establishment of the Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO) creates the potential for increased parliamentary financial oversight. The PBO serves to provide financial and budgetary analysis to MPs and parliamentary services to help them make more informed decisions and scrutinise public spending decisions. The idea to establish PBO stems from recommendations and commitments of participants in a conference at Wilton Park in the UK in 2018. Since then, WFD has been working with the Parliament of North Macedonia and the staff of the newly-established PBO to support more efficient and effective public spending in the country.
Another achievement noted in the report is the unanimous adoption of the Declaration for Active Political Participation of Persons with Disabilities. The adoption of the declaration was a process supported by WFD and its partner Polio Plus through the Inter-Party Parliamentary Group of Persons with Disabilities, to increase parliament’s awareness of the rights of these citizens and the barriers to full participation in politics and society that they are confronted with.
WFD’s Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia, Chris Levick, said:
“While the global pandemic has raised barriers for active participation and an inclusive political system, this has been felt acutely by many groups in our communities, including persons with disabilities. Likewise, expanding pressures on public finances have exacerbated the need for effective public spending that delivers for all in society. WFD is delighted to continue working with our partners in North Macedonia, and elsewhere, in these important areas and contribute to a more inclusive and accountable democratic system. The acknowledgement of the progress made in this year’s Country Report is welcome recognition for the progress that has been made.”
Photo: President of the Parliament of North Macedonia, Mr. Talat Xhaferi, meeting with WFD representatives and representatives from PWD organizations in the country at a ceremony to mark the occasion of the adoption of the first Declaration on Active Political Participation of Persons with Disabilities.