Ten years of Capacity Development Programme in Montenegro

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Amidst prevailing perception that the integration in the European Union is a “bureaucratic task and a governmental issue”, Montenegro is steadily moving towards membership. A lot of administrative issues, policies and normative laws still wait to be turned into practice.


  • CDP engages around 20 international and 7 national experts per year. Sustainability of CDP approach is confirmed by the fact that approximately 80% of local consultants engaged to provide support to various ministries stayed in those institutions as official public servants
  • CDP organizes approximately 4 study visits and 15 capacity development trainings on annual basis, with 450 – 500 participants in total

The EU accession story in this tiny country of 620,000 started with the new century. Weak capacities of public administration on the one side and EU’s requirements on the other side made UNDP’s model of capacity development interesting and cost-effective enough to make partners from the government want it to boost institutional changes.

At the time, in partnership with the Government of Montenegro and Open Society Institute, UNDP established the Capacity Development Programme. The goal was, and still is, to contribute to the successful achievement of country's reform and development of public administration. The objective is to find best ways to fulfill the accession requirements – without increasing the numbers of institutions and civil servants.

Members of CDP team Olivera Dimic and Dragan Djuric apply seemingly simple tools of the trade to accomplish their tasks: they bring on board national and international experts and they organize trainings and study tours. But, their tasks are not simple at all.

“By 2006 we supported all line ministries in developing and strengthening structures needed for the country's Stabilization and Association Agreement“ says Olivera, CDP manager. Montenegro  completed  the negotiation process and signed the SAA in 2007.

Between 2007-2010, the CDP helped the Government to bring the SAA on to implementation. The cooperation resulted in country's stronger ability to apply for the EU membership in 2010.The negotiations with the EU started in June 2012, thus CDP's current, third phase is all about strengthening country's structures for the negotiations process.

CDP established a reputation for responding with quality, quickly, and inexpensively, to particular demands from the central administration for short-term expertise needed to expedite innovative aspects of public policy, and ensure its efficient and user-friendly delivery.

“UNDP's CDP is a very useful mechanism for cooperation because it allows us to reach out for the best experts and to come to the knowledge that is essential in the EU integration process, and to achieve the kind of contacts you as a country never could without the participation of a third partner,” said Ambassador Aleksandar Andrija Pejovic, Chief Negotiator for Negotiations on Accession of Montenegro to the European Union.

CDP's strenuous work reflected also in the preparation of the National Programme for Integration to EU. Olivera’s and Dragan’s efforts contributed to improved inter-ministerial coordination, too, and the result of that coordination was systematic preparation of more than 4,600 Answers on the European Commission Questionnaire. In addition, they helped in increasingthe institutional capacities formeeting EU pre-accession funding demands and utilizing the European Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance and other foreign and domestic resources.

“We also managed to make CDP an important ingredient in regular quarterly reporting on the European integration process in Montenegro which Government provides to the Parliament on a regular basis,” CDP Core Technical advisor Dragan explained.

According to an independent evaluation CDP’s value added to the government and to donors are three workable and working elements: good management, good people and trust. Main CDP characteristics, which grant it an advantage as compared to the customary donor activity models, are as follows:

Partnership: Government representatives sit in CDP's supervisory board and the executive committee, while the programme management unit is located at government's premises;

Strategic approach and focus:CDP focuses on country's ultimate strategic priority–the EU integration;

Timeliness and flexibility:CDP exercises support exactly at a time when state institutions need it, and it plays a conciliatory rolein variable situations and circumstances;

Complementary effect and networking: CDP coordinates activities that integrate the overall potentials of Montenegro and complements those ofother projects and donors, especially the EU.

The project receives support from various donors, including EU, USA and governments of Norway and the Netherlands. It is a part of UNDP Montenegro's Democratic Governance Cluster. The Government of Montenegro contributed the office for the CDP Team.

Written by: Olivera Dimic, CDP Programme Manager and Dragan Djuric, CDP Chief Technical Adviser

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