Skopje, 12 July, 2022 – The second phase of the project “Empowering Municipal Councils” has begun, through which a series of activities will be implemented in the next five years to encourage the development of municipalities and improve the quality of life of citizens in local communities. To achieve these goals, efforts will be made to improve the capacities of municipal councilors, direct involvement of citizens in the decision-making process, improvement of legislation, digitization of services, increased transparency and fight against corruption. One of the key principles of the project is to fully respect the principles of equal gender representation and equal opportunities for all citizens during the implementation of all project activities.

“Empowering Municipal Councils” is a partnership project of the Government of Switzerland and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), and the Ministry of Local Self-Government will directly participate in the implementation of the second phase. Project activities will be implemented in a total of 40 municipalities, which will be selected in a transparent manner and according to defined criteria. The public call for the selection of the first 10 municipalities which will be involved in the project has already been announced and the interested local self-governments can apply until July 21 at the latest.

In partner local self-governments, specialized trainings for councilors will be conducted and digital tools will be implemented for bigger transparency in operations. Furthermore, Community Forums will be organized in these municipalities, through which citizens will directly choose priority local projects for the realization of which non-refundable grants are provided. However, the entire system of local self-government will benefit, given that online training for councilors and a web platform for publishing financial data are available to all municipalities in the state. The final goal and mission of the project is building transparent, accountable and autonomous local self-governments that put the needs and interests of citizens first.

The second phase of “Empowering Municipal Councils” will be implemented in the period 2022-2027 with a total budget of 6.7 million US dollars. The best proof of the successful first phase of the project is the third award at the European level, for impact in improving people’s lives and the quality of democracy, won at the Open Government Partnership Global Summit in Seoul, Republic of Korea.

Switzerland has supported North Macedonia in its political, social and economic transition since 1992. The current goal of Switzerland’s program in the country is to improve the quality of life of the citizens of North Macedonia by strengthening democratic institutions and practices, promoting inclusive economic growth and protecting natural resources. Switzerland adds value through expertise, financing and constructive engagement with long-term partners in North Macedonia. Today, Switzerland is among the largest bilateral partners of North Macedonia and remains committed to the stability and prosperity of the region.