NISPAcee Conference „Spreading Standards, Building Capacities: European Administrative Space in Progress“, Zagreb, 19-21 May 2016

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Networks of Schools and Institutes of Public Administration in Central and Eastern Europe (NISPAcee) held its 24th Annual Conference on in Zagreb, Croatia. The Conference was hosted by the Faculty of Law, University of Zagreb. The main objective of this year's Conference was to bring together renowned scholars, researchers, experts and professionals, students and other participants to present conceptual papers, research results and other papers and presentations on the importance, driving factors and impacts of the European Administrative Space (EAS) that emerge throughout Europe and its neighbouring areas and to share knowledge about administrative capacities throughout Europe and the region, and the concrete ways to boost them in the countries of the NISPAcee region.

The Conference was opened by introductory words of NISPAcee President Marius Profiroiu, Rector of Zagreb University Damir Boras, Vice Dean of the Faculty of Law in Zagreb Ivana Gregurev and Secretary of the Zagreb City Assembly Greta Augustinović Pavić on behalf of the Mayor of the City of Zagreb Milan Bandić. Speeches were also held by Dubravka Jurlina Alibegović, Croatian Minister of Public Administration, Anamarija Musa, Croatian Information Commissioner and John Mary Kauzya, Chief of the Public Administration Capacity Branch of the UNDESA.

Key-note presentation was held by Herwig Hofmann, University of Luxembourg on the future of public law in Europe, integrated administrations and their consequences. The Opening Session was followe by Award Ceremony: Alena Brunovska Award for Teaching Excellence in PA was won by prof. Dr. Ivan Koprić, Faculty of Law, University of Zagreb, who held a presentation on Decentralization as a Precarious Component of Contemporary European Governance, and Mzia Mikeladze PhD Thesis Award was assigned to Riin Savi, Tallinn University of Technology for her thesis „The Impact of Fiscal Crises on Public Administration: Cutback Management and Changes in Decision-Making“. The Opening Session finished by EAPAA Plenary Session with Peter Marks, Erasmus University, Rotterdam, Netherlands and C. Michelle Piskulich, Oakland University, Rochterster, United States who were discussing trends in public administration education.

The working part of the exceptionally rich Conference programme included presentations and discussions of the Conference participants, organized through several sessions and panels and ten working groups: I. Local Government, II. e-Government, III. Public Administration Reform, IV. Regional Development and Inter-regional Cooperation, V. Public Finance and Public Finance Management, VI. Public Policy Development Issues VII. Public Administration Education, VIII. Local Services and Infrastructure, IX. Transition, Change and Uncertainty, X. Non-governmental Organizations. Each working group had from two to six meetings during which two to four papers were presented. The research questions were either conceptualized on or reflected the good European governance, transparency and open government, harmonisation and administrative convergence, administrative traditions and resistance towards standardisation, new developments in public and administrative law as the answer to European harmonisation, adaptation of public sector management to multi-level governance, European integrated administration, etc.

The Conference included several other events: election of new members of the NISPAcee Steering Committee and new NISPAcee president, Juraj Nemec, professor of Public Economics from Masaryk University, Brno, Czech Republic who assumed the position from the former president Marius Profiroiu, professor of public policy and European politics from Bucharest Academy of Economic Studies, Romania; Steering Committee Meeting / EUIPPA Board Meeting; Meeting with the Conference Coordinators and the PhD Pre-conference Seminar, a one-day symposium for doctoral students who presented their work was held on May 18th 2016, moderated by professors Michiel de Vries, Radboud University Nijmegen, Netherlands and Iwona Sobin University of Gothenburg, Sweden.

The Conference Closing Plenary Round Table gathered PA experts Ivan Koprić, Faculty of Law, University of Zagreb, Fatos Mustafa and Zorana Gajic from ReSPA and Tony Verheijen, Serbia Country Manager from World Bank, Washington DC, USA in a concluding discussion on Harmonization with European Administrative Principles and Standards in South-Eastern Europe. The Award Ceremony followed: Award for the Best Graduate Student Paper was won by Urša Jeretina, Faculty of Administration, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia
for her paper „Administrative Aspect of Consumer Alternative Dispute Resolution in the EU, Slovenia and Croatia“, Award for the Best Comparative Paper was given to paper „Fiscal Crisis and Expenditure Cuts: The Influence of Public Management Practices on Cutback Strategies in Europe“ by Ringa Raudla, James W. Douglas, Tiina Randma-Liiv and Riin Savi, Tallinn University of Technology, Estonia and Merit Award went to Tony Verheijen.

Free copies of many NISPAcee publications were available to all Conference participants during the Conference. The participants also enjoyed three special social events: a Welcome Evening and the reception of the City Mayor at the Palace of Dverce, Art Deco Retro Party and a sightseeing trip to the City of Samobor.