EU launches new guidelines to support civil society in the enlargement region

Some 200 representatives of civil society organisations, the European Commission, EU delegations, Western Balkan authorities and international organizations participated in the Civil Society Forum in Skopje, North Macedonia, June 8-9, 2022. The main objective of the meeting was to launch the “Guidelines for EU Support to Civil Society in the Enlargement Region 2021-2027”.

The revised CSO guidelines are aimed at three groups of stakeholders:

EU staff: to assist them in the design and implementation of EU support to civil society and in analyzing the situation regarding civil society in IPA beneficiary countries, including as part of the assessment of progress towards the Copenhagen political criteria;

Civil society in the region: ensure that there is a shared view on the expected results of EU support to civil society, in terms of the enabling environment, cooperation between civil society and public authorities, as well as the performance and standards that CSOs themselves should meet;

Decision-makers and policy makers benefiting from IPA: to help them develop and monitor their own strategies and support for the development of civil society, by defining the relevant standards and expectations, in particular in terms of an enabling environment for civil society and their involvement in public policies and in the EU integration process.

The EU will monitor the situation against the guidelines at regular intervals. This will help the EU and other stakeholders to identify and act on areas where improvements are possible.

The Forum also reaffirmed the important role that civil society organizations play for their societies and in the EU integration process, namely contributing to the necessary reforms, helping to involve citizens and supporting economic, social and politics of the region. In times of crisis, civil society organizations are essential actors to help monitor impacts, reduce misinformation and advocate on behalf of marginalized communities.

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