The Guidelines for EU support to civil society in enlargement countries, 2014-2020 states that an empowered civil society can play an important role in ensuring these principles are upheld in practice. It is also in itself a crucial component of any democracy. By articulating citizens' concerns, civil society organisations (CSOs) - understood as all non-state, not-for-profit structures in which people organise to pursue shared objectives and ideals – are active in the public arena and engage in initiatives which foster pluralism and further participatory democracy.
The enlargement countries face a range of challenges, especially in fields such as the rule of law, corruption, organised crime, the economy and social cohesion. Civil Society actors and organisations can make a substantial contribution to addressing many of these through their lobbying, advocacy and oversight activities at national, regional and local level.
When it comes to democratic governance and the rule of law and fundamental rights, including freedom of expression & association and minority rights, they can create demand for enhanced transparency, accountability and effectiveness from public institutions and facilitate a greater focus on the needs of citizens in policy-making. CSOs in the region have also demonstrated their ability to initiate effective anti-corruption initiatives, contribute to regional integration and reconciliation processes, support independent media, campaign for gender equality, fight against discrimination, and promote social inclusion and environmentally sustainable policies and practices.
Full text of the Guidelines is available here.
The Monitoring Matrix is a tool that has been developed for measuring the health of the legal, regulatory, and financial environment in which civil society organisations (CSOs) operate. It has been the collective effort of CSO experts and practitioners from the BCSDN network of members and partners and focusses on countries in the Western Balkans and Turkey.
For more information please visit the www.monitoringmatrix.net
The development of the Guidelines for EU support to media in enlargement countries was initiated by the Speak-up!2 Conference held by the European Commission in June 2013 that was a major Enlargement policy related event attracting a lot of attention and was undoubtedly a success in formulating policy goals and setting direction for practical actions. Now that the conference conclusions have been published, it is time to move to the next stage.
According to the conclusions, the Commission committed itself to: “For the period 2014-2020 the European Commission will develop a long term policy approach for EU financial assistance on freedom of expression issues in the Enlargement countries. The approach will take into account that addressing these issues is a process which requires engagement over a longer time period.”
With this in mind, DG ELARG has prepared draft guidelines for Commission's long-term (2014-2020) engagement in comprehensively assisting the countries to reach a satisfactory situation regarding media freedom attached below.
The guidelines should be in place by early 2014 and should serve as a basis for supporting media at both levels – regional (multi-beneficiary) and that of individual countries. Once in place, the guidelines should become a part of the IPA multi-country and country strategies to be adopted in the beginning of 2014. Moreover, a mechanism for continuous monitoring of the results will be identified.
Full text of the Guidelines is available here [updated March 26, 2014].