Strengthening of consumer organizations for better municipal services in South East Europe

The aim of the project “Strengthening of consumer organizations for better municipal services in South East Europe” is to strengthen the capacity of consumer organizations to advocate for the rights of users of municipal services in Southeastern Europe. The project is funded by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, Open Regional Fund for Modernization of Municipal Services and conducted by a network of research centers dealing with European policies in South East Europe – TEN, consisting of the Center for European Policy (CEP), the Institute for European policy (EPI) from Macedonia and the Institute Alternative (IA) from Montenegro.

The project involved the national consumer organizations from three countries (COM from Macedonia, CEZAP from Montenegro and NOPS from Serbia), while the consumer protection organizations from other countries in the region are gradually included in the project.

Implementation of the project will be conducted through a set of work packages that will be focused on the following activities: development of regional studies and the adoption of action plans to advocate for consumer organizations, organizing a dialogue between all stakeholders and preparing a strategy to raise consumer awareness, and the establishment of regional consumer organizations – ConWeB with the clear objective of joining the European Consumer Organisation (BEUC).

Estimated time for project implementation is 13 months, and implementation was started in February 2015.

Project Kick-off meeting

The project Kick-off meeting was held on 18th of February 2015 in Belgrade, Serbia.

The project will achieve the following results: 1) Consumer organizations will form its position on the challenges related to the protection of users of municipal services, 2) Consumer organizations should strengthen their capacity to raise the level of consciousness and awareness of target groups, 3) It should be identified potential cooperation initiatives between research organizations, but also with the other actors at regional and national level.

The operational plan of the project consists of four work packages, which will be focused on the following activities: development of regional studies and the adoption of action plans to advocate for consumer organizations, organizing a dialogue between all stakeholders and preparing a strategy to raise consumer awareness, and the establishment of regional consumer organizations – CONWeB, with the clear aim of joining BEUC – the European organization for consumer protection.

First workshop to strengthen the capacity of the consumer organizations

Within the network of research centers in South East Europe – Think for Europe Network (TEN), in Belgrade on 30th and 31st of March 2015 was held a two-day regional workshop, at which consumer organizations had the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the analytical framework and data collection methods to improve their capacity to advocate for the rights of users of municipal services in Southeastern Europe.

The workshop is therefore provided participants with additional knowledge and skills for a successful preparation of joint studies, and independent research activities for influencing policy-making processes and effective consumer protection. In addition to this, there will be organized several workshops with the common goal of strengthening the capacity of consumer organizations. Additional participants in the project activities will be related to the identification of problems that consumers / users of municipal / utilities face in protecting their rights, formulate recommendations to overcome them, as well as the establishment of regional consumer organizations (ConWeB).

Second workshop held in Budva

Workshop on fundraising and management of projects financed from EU funds, within the framework of the project “Capacity building of consumer organizations for better municipal services in South East Europe”, was organized by the Institute Alternative (IA) and TEN network, whose IA member, held in Budva between 7th and 11th of June 2015.

During the four-day work, participants had the opportunity to gain new knowledge in the field of writing project proposals funded by the EU funds, as well as in the field of project management. Sessions were devoted to familiarizing stages of the project cycle, a working group created concrete proposals.

Knowledge and experience gained at the workshop should strengthen consumer organizations in Serbia, Macedonia and Montenegro, in the future process of raising funds and writing projects in the future work of ConWeb, network of organizations for the protection of consumers, whose establishing is foreseen by this project.

Local events in Montenegro
Within the project local events were organised in the municipalities of Berane and Niksic in Montenegro, where the results of the study titled “Challenges of consumer protection in the field of municipal services, the process of European integration” were presented. The aims of the study are to show the current state of consumer protection in the utility sector, as well as advocating for better municipal services in the region. The events were attended by representatives of utilities and local governments.

The project is supported by:

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