On “Public Procurement”: the NHC Interviews Participants of the Third Matra Rule of Law Training
The third training of the Matra Rule of Law Training Programme, Public Procurement, was held in Leiden and The Hague, the Netherlands from 21 till 30 June 2017 and brought together 34 participants from nine different countries. The main aim of this training, which included lectures, skills training and study visits, was to increase understanding of the European Union (EU) standards relating to public procurement and of factors that determine the legitimacy, integrity and transparency of the process of public procurement. It was designed and implemented by Leiden Law School in collaboration with the other partners of the consortium; the Netherlands Helsinki Committee and The Hague Academy for Local Governance.
Meet the Participants
Emina Hadžić (31) and Amina Malkić (37) are two participants from Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) who are interested in bettering public procurement practices by tackling issues of corruption in their home country.
Yevgen Vilinsky (51) and Marta Bukhtiyarova (27), from Ukraine cite similar issues of corruption and the need for greater transparency in the public procurement sector in order to adapt national legislation to EU standards.
Given the importance of aligning the national public procurement system with that of the EU, Marija Vulić (34) of Montenegro and the other Montenegrin participants focused on this issue in their Back Home Action Plan, a plan developed during the training which they will implement once they are back in their home countries.
Confronting obstacles in public procurement
After the training, these five participants reflected on what they have learned from the various theoretical and practical sessions. Specifically, they mentioned how the training has helped them approach obstacles in the implementation process of public procurement.
Due to large financial interests and close public-private relationships, public procurement is susceptible to various conflicts of interest. For example, Amina argues that the main problem in BiH is bureaucratic stagnation due to disagreements between the advisory and the deciding bodies. Emina believes that transparency can reduce cases of corruption and was glad that anti-corruption strategies were shared during the training.
For Marija, Marta, and Yevgen, studying the European Court of Justice “blacklisting” cases taught them how to tackle issues of criminal activity in procurement practices. “Learning about those cases and listening to other participants’ experience expanded my knowledge of law enforcement in the field of anti-corruption strategies,” says Marija. Marta adds that it is very useful to know how criminal and administrative liability were dealt with in those cases.
“It was interesting to learn how anti procedures work and how we can better improve competition”, Yevgen adds.
Creating long-lasting change
This particular Matra Rule of Law Training placed special emphasis on exploring dilemmas in procedural implementation so participants can tackle similar obstacles in their home countries. In this interview, the participants voice their sincere gratitude for the opportunity to participate in this training programme. Furthermore, they have ambitious plans for the future with regard to public procurement practice.
“It is always difficult to change such patterns of behaviour,” says Marija. “However, I believe I will be in a position to present better legal solutions after this training and will make every effort to share my experience with fellow public procurement officers.”
Marta argues that the main challenge of implementing her newfound knowledge is battling resistance from her main business partners. “I want to transform [them] into ‘agents of change’ and concentrate their focus towards attracting additional resources”.
Emina is optimistic that “the system can very well be improved” and aims to strengthen the public procurement framework by increasing public awareness.
Amina believes this training was enriching, “I can already see where the ideas from this training can help improve our domestic framework!”
“The transitional process is not usually easy”, says Yevgen. “But I am sure that we are ready for these challenges. I am organising discussion rounds with relevant procurement actors to inform them about our experiences – and involve them with the process of change!”
To learn more about upcoming Matra Rule of Law Trainings click here.