Where do social partners and citizens fit in?

13. June 2013.

This address is related to the current parliamentary debate on the long awaited Draft Law on Cooperation between Croatian Parliament and the Government in European Affairs to which we submitted detailed comments during the public consultations process, held last month by the European Integrations Committee of the Croatian Parliament. However, none of our comments have been accepted, as evident from the draft submitted to members of parliament. Furthermore, MPs have not received the report pertaining to those consultations, which raises the issue of the purpose and credibility of the public consultations.

We are calling on all MPs to request from the European Integrations Committee all comments received during the consultations process. We are also calling on all MPs to take part in the process of finalizing this short, yet highly important law, with thoroughness and utmost responsibility.  In line with article 144 of the Croatian Constitution, this Law should ensure an effective parliamentary oversight of all aspects of the Government’s work in EU institutions, pertaining to both   future EU legislation, as well as oversight of all obligations and reforms stemming from the pre-accession period. It is alarming that the Government still has not proscribed the procedure for drafting national positions on draft EU legislation and policies, nor have the social partners and the interested public been consulted on this issue.

In order for national positions on EU policies to reflect the real needs and recognized risks for Croatian society and economy, it is absolutely necessary that the drafting procedure includes earliest possible consultations with all those with knowledge and experience in specific issues.  These are for sure not only civil servants, but also social partners, the academic community, civil society and local communities. Let us not forget that such was the practice of preparing national negotiating positions. Line ministries preparing the initial positions should be in charge of these early consultations. Interested stakeholders can be involved in the process by means of a transparent public call for expression of interest to take part in the drafting of the national positions, accompanied by a description of their experiences and expertise.

In order to avoid the recurring scenario of passing legislation at the very last minute, with collateral victims being the public, the quality as well as oversight of political decisions, we are calling on the Prime minister, Zoran Milanović, to ensure that the Government’s Decision on the process of preparing national positions on EU policies and legislation includes provisions regarding timely inclusion of social partners and the interested public in the process.

Civil society coalition Platform 112 – for Croatia governed by the rule of law

Union of Autonomous Trade Unions of Croatia (SSSH/UATUC)

The Independent Trade Unions of Croatia (NHS/ITUC)