Algeria – Protecting the Consumer !

In late June, NI-CO was delighted to welcome 6 senior delegates from Algeria who were visiting Belfast as part of a UK study mission designed to explore best practice in consumer protection. The visit was organised by NI-CO as part of our EU financed Institutional Twinning project which we have been delivering in Algiers since 2017. During their trip, senior managers from the Algerian Ministry of Commerce were kindly hosted by practitioners from Trading Standards within the Department for Economy, the Consumer Council, Food Standards Agency, Port Health, Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs and Consumer Safety NI who shared real life cases of current consumer complaints, stakeholder management issues and threats to consumer safety. During the meetings the group were encouraged to reflect upon current practices within Algeria and to discuss how the various models employed by Northern Ireland might be adapted to meet the evolving needs of the consumer protection sector in Algeria.



By |2018-07-04T13:55:29+00:00July 4th, 2018|News|0 Comments

Montenegro : Perfecting Personnel Policies and Procedures

This month NI-CO were delighted to host a number of senior Human Resource Managers from Montenegro. The delegation were visiting Northern Ireland as part of a UK bilateral funded public administration programme which NI-CO has been supporting since 2012.

NI-CO’s HR adviser Mr Paul McCallion, who has been part of the UK project from its inception explains ‘ The law on Public Administration passed in Montenegro in 2013 has had direct implications for HR management in 150 public institutions across the country. The project has achieved tremendous results thus far in recruiting and training dedicated HR staff throughout the Montenegrin public service who have both the skills and capacity to implement new legislation relating to merit based recruitment, appraisal and the training and development of all civil servants. This study visit to Northern Ireland aimed to showcase the UK’s most successful innovations in Human Resource Management from staff welfare and equal opportunities to performance management and occupational health. As well as illustrating theory in practice, I hope the meetings gave delegates a chance learn from the experiences of some of NI’s most experienced HR practitioners.’

As well as visits to Capita HR Solutions, Equality Commission, Local Government Staff Commission and Lisburn and Castlereagh Borough Council, the group met with The Department of Finance to learn more about how digital services have improved HR management in recent years.

By |2018-02-22T12:21:40+00:00February 22nd, 2018|News|0 Comments

A Return to Tbilisi for NI-CO’s Regulatory Services Team

NI-CO is delighted to be back in Georgia delivering our second EU Institutional Twinning project in the field of Market Surveillance. The 2 year contract is part of a large €45 million EU support package for Georgia which has been designed to eliminate ‘Technical Barriers to Trade’ and implement the DCFTA between the EU and Georgia via the development of an EU compliant market surveillance service.

Based within the Technical and Construction Supervision Agency (TCSA) in Tbilisi, the NI-CO Regulatory services team is working to support staff in the implementation of the multi-annual action plan on market surveillance on industrial and consumer products adopted by the Governmental Decree N641. The project will be focused around 3 core components: legal approximation; institutional strengthening and capacity building of TCSA staff and awareness raising to publicize important information about TCSA activities and services in relation to market surveillance and consumer protection.

By |2017-12-19T08:47:20+00:00December 19th, 2017|News|Comments Off on A Return to Tbilisi for NI-CO’s Regulatory Services Team

The Challenge of Enforcing Fair Online Trading

Over the last 12 months, NI-CO has been working as part of an international consortium to deliver a prestigious EU-wide contract to assist in the development and provision of training in internet investigations for the EU Consumer Protection Cooperation (CPC) and the Consumer Product Safety Networks (CSN).

The € 1.7 million contract is a direct response to the rapid growth in on line trading and will see the development and provision of high-quality training and learning materials to support the work of all EU national consumer protection authorities and the network of authorities responsible for consumer product safety.

Cognisant of the varying levels of experience and competence across the EU consumer protection community, the project has developed a confidential  e-enforcement academy accessible via the EU website where users can access information on the most basic elements of ‘e commerce’ and new business models to a more sophisticated e learning facility. The training and supporting learning material is of a very high standard and is already proving to be extremely useful to EU consumer protection and product safety enforcement staff as they meet the day to day challenges of implementing new EU directives. As well as providing advice and support on legal issues, the on line tutorials offer practical support about where and how to target resources, the principles for effective market surveillance, intelligence sources and formal versus informal enforcement action.

One of the highlights of the project to date has been the development of blogposts alerting investigators and consumer protection officers to on line scams involving counterfeit products, holidays, investment opportunities, dating websites, IT technical support and employment opportunities. These posts reference real life cases and enforcement action from across the globe and allow officers to introduce more preventative and proactive measures to improve e-enforcement and combat on line fraud. At present we are finalising a ‘Special Holiday Consumer Safety Post ’ – identifying possible product safety problems in purchasing presents on line in the lead up to  the holiday season.

As we approach the second year of the project, we look forward to continuing our work alongside The Spanish Association for Standardization and the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) in enhancing our offering for the consumer protection community and in safeguarding the 280 million individuals in the EU28 who shop online.


By |2017-11-29T12:49:54+00:00November 29th, 2017|News|Comments Off on The Challenge of Enforcing Fair Online Trading

Jordan’s Minister for Social Development visits Belfast

NI-CO were privileged to recently host the Minister for Social Development in Jordan, Her Excellency Minister Hala Lattouf to Belfast. The Minister’s visit follows the successful delivery of one of NI-CO’s largest EU funded programmes in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan  which saw a number of Northern Ireland’s leading social care experts travel to Amman to work alongside their counterparts in the development of a more robust and inclusive social protection system.

The three day programme to Belfast allowed Minister Lattouf to explore, at first-hand, the recent innovations in NI’s social services provision including the support networks we provide for vulnerable groups and victims of domestic and sexual violence.  As well as meeting with senior government officials in the Department of Health to discuss policy and budget issues, the Minister had the rare opportunity to visit a range of specialist projects in Northern Ireland dedicated to safeguarding the most vulnerable in our society. At MACs Supporting Children & Young People, Cedar Foundation, Ardkeen Supported Living, Woodlands Juvenile Justice Centre and Woman’s Aid, Minster Latouff examined the latest initiatives for supporting mental health, homelessness, disability, abuse and youth justice.

It is hoped that the Minister’s visit to Northern Ireland will prompt further reform in Jordan and foster stronger working relations between Amman and Belfast in the future.


By |2017-11-15T14:08:11+00:00November 9th, 2017|News|Comments Off on Jordan’s Minister for Social Development visits Belfast

Always Check the Label !

UK shares best practice with Algeria in food labelling and Consumer Education

NI-CO recently organised a study programme for 7 senior government officials from Algeria to visit the UK to learn about effective food labelling and consumer education with regards to food nutritional values.

The visit was organised under the EU funded institutional twinning project which NI-CO has been delivering in Algeria since January 2017: Support to the Institutional framework for the collection, processing and promotion of information in relation to consumer protection and was designed to allow participants to experience at first-hand how the UK’s leading consumer protection authorities are helping to tackle problems of diabetes, obesity and heart disease through targeted consumer education initiatives.

During the 5 day programme, delegates were hosted by Invest Northern Ireland, the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (TSI), the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and Haringey Council to learn about the management, planning and operational challenges of effective consumer protection programmes which meet EU and WTO standards. Presentations and interactive workshops were delivered on consumer policy and enforcement, emergency planning and resilience, food labelling and healthy catering campaigns. At the end of the week officials were given the opportunity to visit the Wolfson Institute in the University of London and the Obesity Health Alliance (OHA) at UK Health Forum to explore the UK’s latest advances in preventing obesity-related ill-health through targeted consumer education programmes to reduce salt, sugar and saturated fat consumption.

By |2017-11-07T13:19:20+00:00November 7th, 2017|News|Comments Off on Always Check the Label !

NI-CO Associate appointed Honorary Consul for Bulgaria

NI-CO would like to extend our congratulations to our Social Policy Adviser, Mr Paul Martin CBE who has been appointed by the Bulgarian Government as Honorary Consul for Northern Ireland.

As well as being the main contact point for Bulgaria’s Embassy in the UK and the Bulgarian community in Northern Ireland, Mr Martin will facilitate cultural and business ties between the 2 countries.

Congratulating Mr Martin on his new role, Permanent Secretary at the Department for the Economy, Dr Andrew McCormick said:  “Developing international links is hugely important for Northern Ireland’s future as we continue to share opportunities to work together and develop links in trade, investment and tourism.  I wish Paul well in his new post and look forward to working with him on issues of mutual interest in the future.”

Mr Martin takes up the appointment following a prestigious public service career spanning 38 years which saw him rise to the position of Chief Social Services Officer for the NI Assembly.

It was following his retirement in 2008 that Mr Martin first established links with Bulgaria when he was appointed as NI-CO’s EU Resident Twinning Advisor to the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy in Sofia.  During the 2 year post, Mr Martin nurtured a close working relationship with government bodies and NGO’s across Bulgaria and welcomes this opportunity to extend those strong links through this appointment. Speaking at the opening of the Consulate Office Mr Martin stated “I am honoured to be offered this appointment and look forward to doing what I can to assist Bulgarian citizens who come to visit, work or reside here. Furthermore I will endeavour to promote trade and business links as well as promoting cultural, tourism and cultural exchanges”.


By |2017-10-16T13:12:13+00:00October 16th, 2017|News|Comments Off on NI-CO Associate appointed Honorary Consul for Bulgaria

Kazakhstan Sets Example in the CIS

NI-CO’s EU funded project in Kazakhstan has recently celebrated the opening of a one stop Justice Services Centre which will provide free services to the public. The Centre in Astana is the first of its kind in the CIS and represents a real breakthrough in transforming the post-soviet law supervisory state agency to a modern public service-oriented organization.

Located in the General Prosecutor’s Office building, the Centre will focus on the prompt resolution of complaints, raising the level of citizens’ trust in law enforcement and government bodies, whilst eliminating the administrative burdens and bureaucracy. Operating a ‘single window’ system, the Centre allows visitors access to prosecutors, lawyers, mediators and other specialists according to their needs while the effective use of technology widens the number of available services.

The Justice Services Centre is part of a wide reaching criminal justice reform programme in Kazakhstan which the NI-CO EUCJ project team has been delivering since October 2015. Throughout 2017, it is hoped that such centres will be established in other major cities throughout the country.



By |2017-09-28T13:47:58+00:00September 28th, 2017|News|Comments Off on Kazakhstan Sets Example in the CIS

Northern Ireland Share Nursing and Midwifery Expertise with Croatia


This month NI-CO was delighted to host a delegation of midwives, nursing professionals and academics from Croatia who were visiting Belfast to examine best practice in maternity and neonatal services.

The 5 day visit was organised under the auspices of a 12 month EU financed Institutional Twinning project which NI-CO has been delivering since early spring 2017. Designed to enhance the competences, knowledge and skills of nurses and midwives in line with Croatia’s new healthcare framework, the programme allowed delegates to explore Northern Ireland’s latest and most innovative developments in healthcare. During visits to the Department of Health, the NI Practice and Education Council and the Clinical Education Centre, the group learnt about the importance and value of collaborative working, data management and, perhaps most importantly, lifelong training and quality assurance. Senior practitioners from a number of local hospitals kindly gave up their time to speak to the delegation and share their personal experiences of NI’s award winning nurse mentoring programme which allows individual registrant nurses and midwives to develop professional knowledge and competence, assume responsibility for their own practice and enhance service-user protection, quality and safety.

As Croatia strives to implement changes to the existing healthcare model and improve the quality of clinical practice, these sessions provided an invaluable platform for lively debate and discussion on the benefits of mentorship, preceptorship, practice development initiatives and the development of a problem solving and questioning approach to practice issues enabled through portfolio development and work based learning facilitation. Over the next 6 months this learning will be put into practice as, together with NI-CO’s resident team in Zagreb, the delegates will contribute towards the development of a bespoke educational plan and programme for a mentoring system which shall facilitate the education of future generations of nurses and midwives across Croatia.

By |2017-07-03T08:23:59+00:00July 3rd, 2017|News|Comments Off on Northern Ireland Share Nursing and Midwifery Expertise with Croatia

Macedonia – “Developing cooperation between higher education institutions, the private sector and relevant public bodies”



This week NI-CO is delighted to host a group of 6 senior delegates from the Republic of Macedonia who are visiting Belfast to explore how employers and education providers in Northern Ireland are starting to work together to help students access rewarding employment opportunities while stimulating local business growth. The visit is funded under the auspices of an EU Institutional Twinning project which NI-CO is delivering in partnership with the Centre International d’Etudes Pédagogiques (CIEP).

Over the next 5 days, the group will have the opportunity to learn about NI’s latest educational policy developments from senior public servants within the Department for the Economy and examine new, innovative programmes being implemented by the Queen’s University of Belfast, Belfast Metropolitan College and the University of Ulster. Visits to NI Career’s Service and to some of NI’s biggest student employers such as Deloitte and Catalyst Inc, will also provide delegates with an opportunity to explore policy in practice and assess which models may be relevant for Macedonia as they embark upon a new programme of economic and educational reform.

By |2017-05-19T13:42:17+00:00March 28th, 2017|News|Comments Off on Macedonia – “Developing cooperation between higher education institutions, the private sector and relevant public bodies”