The EU remains firmly committed to enhancing the civil society’s role in the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP), Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy Štefan Füle has told representatives of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) during a meeting in Brussels today. The exchange of views with the CSOs is part of annual public consultations aimed to help prepare the next European Neighbourhood Policy country progress reports.
The ENP is a prime example of a comprehensive approach to foreign policy and an umbrella that allows the EU to use all available instruments and policies in a coherent way, from CFSP/CSDP to political cooperation and trade policy, as well as sector policies such as energy, environment, transport, and development cooperation policy. “It is why, engaging with organisations like yours, which are active in a wide range of areas, is so important,” the Commissioner stressed.
The EU Delegations in partner countries have started to build a structured dialogue with national and local organisations aimed at discussing key recommendations contained in the annual progress reports and the implementation of priorities from the Action Plans and the Association Agendas, Štefan Füle told the audience.
He said the EU would further step up dialogue with civil society, adding that in 2014, the EU Delegations would have to develop EU roadmaps on working with civil society at country level. “Such effort will provide more impact, predictability and visibility to EU actions targeting civil society, as well as increased complementarity between EU instruments and the support offered by the Member States through its linkage to the EU cycle of external assistance,” the Commissioner underscored.
The EU also seeks to strengthen the structured dialogue with civil society at the regional level, Füle emphasized. With regards to the East, the Commissioner cited the Civil Society Forum as a permanent feature of the work of the Eastern Partnership at the multilateral level. In the South, “we are not yet at the same situation,” the Commissioner said, stressing the need to build a new dialogue in the region, to create mechanisms to improve representativeness and communication of civil society organisations.
Civil society in the partner countries should be more involved in shaping the reform agenda in the Neighbourhood, the Commissioner said, through engagement “in the conception and supervision of budget support programmes, which the EU uses to support reforms in partner countries.” In particular, civil society can be part of the steering committee overseeing the implementation of the budget support programmes,he suggested, “consulted on sector reform strategies, implement various components of the sector support programmes and monitor the implementation by the government of certain elements of the reforms financed.”
The EU supports civil society organisations in the Neighbourhood through various initiatives and programmes, such as the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR), the Non-State Actors and Local Authorities thematic programme (NSA-LA) and the Civil Society Facility. “I can assure you that the Commission will continue to make significant funding opportunities available to support civil society’s efforts to participate in the implementation of the transformation process,” he said.
The Commissioner concluded by stressing that “the EU remains firmly committed to enhancing the civil society’s role in the European Neighbourhood Policy.”
Source: EU Neighbourhood Info Center