Minister Malenica at Croatian-French Days of Administrative Law

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This year’s topic of the symposium – Challenges for the Legal Rules and Freedoms System in the Wake of Covid-19 Pandemic and Natural Disasters – was discussed by Croatian and French legal experts and scientists.

The opening ceremony of the Croatian-French Days of Administrative Law, a two-day international symposium, took place at the Faculty of Law in Split on Monday, 15 November 2021. 

The guests were welcomed by Mr Ratko Brnabić, Dean of the Split Faculty of Law, who expressed his belief that the Croatian-French Days of Administrative Law would once more generate valuable initiatives for the further development of public administration. Introductory remarks were also made by Mr Dragan Ljutić, Rector of Split University, Ms Marija Čizmić, representative of the Split-Dalmatia County, Mr Ante Galić, President of the High Administrative Court of Croatia, and Ms Estelle Halimi, Adviser at the Embassy of France to Croatia. 

Minister of Justice and Public Administration Ivan Malenica participated in the discussion on the first day of the symposium, contributing with a speech on the digitalisation of public administration activities and the continued application of good solutions once the Covid-19 pandemic is over. 

The Minister pointed out that some of the changes introduced in the public administration system due to Covid-19 are short-term and will be abandoned after the pandemic ends, but a part of the changes will be used to develop a more efficient system. 

“Many citizens have recognised the importance of the digital services of public authorities in the circumstances of the pandemic, which was an indicator to us that we should continue developing and applying quality digital solutions in our daily work”, stated Minister Malenica, presenting a few processes digitalised during the pandemic. 

The work of public authorities is based on the General Administrative Procedure Act (GAPA, Croatian: ZUP), the focus of which is on a set of activities i.e. rules for the functioning of public authorities, and consistent and transparent resolution of specific administrative matters. 

“The latest amendments of the General Administrative Procedure Act additionally accelerated and modernised the administrative procedure, making it more efficient, faster and less expensive for those involved.  We have introduced the digital-first rule, that is, we prescribed that public authorities, parties and other persons participating in administrative procedure communicate primarily by electronic means and using the government information infrastructure", said the Minister, adding that electronic communication is given priority over other communication means for the purpose of speeding up the procedures, which ultimately benefits citizens, fosters digitalisation and generates savings for everyone involved, both citizens and public authorities. 

In 2019, a ZUP IT information system for the collection of data on administrative procedures was established under the project Development and implementation of an IT system for supervising the General Administrative Procedure Act.  The system is now used by all the ministries, counties and the City of Zagreb, i.e. by the civil servants handling administrative procedures, who enter date on individual cases, record actions and institutes applied in this system.  Those data serve as a basis for analyses, measures and activities aimed at increasing efficiency as well as contributing to standardisation and streamlining of procedures, with the ultimate purpose of eliminating any processes which prove to be unnecessary. 

Furthermore, the Administrative Disputes Act was amended, enabling the application of the eFiling (Croatian: eSpis) and eCommunication systems in administrative courts. The implementation of the eFiling system will enable random electronic case assignment in administrative courts as well as better quality case monitoring and statistical reports. eCommunication, on the other hand, enables electronic filing of submissions and delivery of court documents to participants in judicial proceedings, accelerating the work of the courts and enabling more efficient collection of court fees. 

“A modern public administration relies on quality, efficiency and effectiveness of the system, high standards of public services provision, a relationship of trust between public administration and service users, a high level of openness, transparency and accessibility of public authorities as well as a quality ICT network of services. Each of these elements contributes to preserving the rule of law”, concluded Minister Malenica.