Some 200 representatives from civil society organisations, the European Commission, EU Delegations, Western Balkan authorities and international organisations attended the Civil Society Forum in Skopje, North Macedonia on 8 and 9 June 2022. The main objective of the meeting was to launch the revised “Guidelines for EU Support to Civil Society in the Enlargement Region 2021-2027”.
The revised CSO Guidelines are aimed at three stakeholder groups:
EU staff: to assist them in designing and implementing EU support to civil society and in analysing the state of affairs concerning civil society in the IPA beneficiaries, including as part of assessing progress towards the Copenhagen political criteria;
Civil society in the region: to ensure there is a shared view regarding the expected results of EU civil society support, as regards the enabling environment, cooperation between civil society and public authorities, as well as the performance and standards that CSOs themselves should meet;
IPA beneficiary policy-makers and officials: to assist them in developing and monitoring their own strategies and support for civil society development, by laying out relevant standards and expectations, notably in terms of the enabling environment for civil society and their involvement in public-policy making and in the EU integration process.
The EU will monitor the state of affairs against the guidelines at regular intervals. This will help the EU as well as other stakeholders, to identify and act on areas where there is room for improvement.
The Forum also reaffirmed the important role civil society organisations play for their societies and in the EU integration process, namely to contribute to necessary reforms, to help involve citizens and to support the economic, social and political transformation of the region. In times of crisis, civil society organisations are essential players to help monitor impacts, reduce misinformation, and defend the interest of marginalised communities.
The guidelines are accessible here.