Позиція Форуму громадянського суспільства на міністерській зустрічі Східного партнерства
From: Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum Steering Committee
To: Eastern Partnership Ministerial Meeting, EU Council, Brussels,
13 December 2010
Attached: Full recommendations of the Working Groups of the Civil Society Forum
Dear Ms. Chair, dear Commissioner, dear ministers, dear participants of the Ministerial meeting!
I am very glad to have this opportunity to present here the main results and recommendations of the second Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum event which took place in Berlin on 18-19 November this year.
The past two decades of engagement of the EU with the post-Soviet countries have demonstrated that the shared values and principles underpinning the Eastern Partnership initiative, including democracy, human rights, the rule of law and good governance, can be observed and upheld when the following processes are taking place:
1. When there is open and regular dialogue and co-operation between government and civil society,
2. When policymaking is carried out in an accountable manner so that policies are decided following multi-stakeholder expert consultations, and
3. When subsequent policy implementation is monitored by vigilant civil society organisations.
The Eastern Partnership initiative opens the doors to the EU’s eastern neighbours to embrace these shared values, and to increase engagement and contacts at all levels of society. In order to keep the neighbouring countries on track towards becoming stable democracies, nothing is more effective than a vibrant civil society which could bring more sustainability and initiative in it.
At the second annual gathering of the EaP Civil Society Forum a clear consensus emerged that the essential values of democracy, rule of law and respect for human rights and good governance will be best served by a vigilant civil society that provides “added value” expertise to the EaP initiative, contributing to the development and implementation of policies, projects, and programmes.
To meet these objectives, it is essential that civil society is engaged as an active player in the official platform meetings and EaP expert panels.
We also see our role in monitoring the commitments and agreements made by the six EaP countries and the EU – through evaluation and analyses of implementation of EaP agreements.
Civil society experts can be useful in preparing practical policy recommendations, advocating them within the official platforms and participating in the implementation phases of EaP policies.
It is also essential that civil society reinforces its work via national platforms, facilitates stronger engagement of EU civil society in the EaP process and co-operates with EU institutions and international organisations like, for instance, EESC and Council of Europe.
I am not going to speak here now about detailed recommendations of each of the Forum working groups as it was done last year by the previous Forum speaker Siarhei Matskevich. These recommendations are already presented and attached to the Forum report. I think they worth reading and taking into account as very concrete proposals which are complementary to EaP official platforms and panels’ proposals and plans. I would like just to mention several current and planned projects that have been already confirmed by the groups at the Forum event in Berlin:
1. a comparative study to evaluate implementation of the various agreements signed with the EU by the six EaP countries within the framework of the EaP initiative;
2. a series of policy projects between civil society from EaP countries and EU member-states designed to foster economic integration and in a number of cases working to assist EaP governments to move towards DCFTA agreements with the EU;
3. a comparative report monitoring the observation of human rights in all six countries;
4. a co-ordinated visa liberalisation project, which will assess the political will and technical preparedness of each EaP country. A first baseline study will be done by the end of January 2011 and policy recommendations will be ready for the Eastern Partnership summit in Budapest in May 2011;
5. a people-to-people initiative strengthening links between civil society in EU member-states and EaP countries in different thematic areas, such as culture, education, youth policy and some others.
In order to be able to maximise the effectiveness of its meetings throughout 2011, and to ensure that the EU and EaP governments benefit from independent input from civil society, six steps are essential to the fruition of the efforts of the Civil Society Forum:
1. Establishment of a Brussels-based CSF Secretariat with a robust mandate and sufficient resources.
2. “Permanent participant” status of the Civil Society Forum in official platform meetings, thematic working groups, expert panels and flagship initiatives, with prior access to draft policy documents;
3. Facilitation via EU delegations of trilateral dialogue at the national level concerning bilateral agreements, including priority-setting in ENPI funding and review of financial perspectives; and prior access to draft plans and priorities that are subjects of the Action Plans and Association Agreements;
4. Access to information at national level about overall and sector-by-sector financial flows of EC budget support;
5. As in the Western Balkans, establishment of a distinct Civil Society Facility under the ENPI to finance the capacity of civil society organisations and support dialogue between CSOs and government.
6. Possibility to take a seat for CSF representatives at the EaP Summit in Budapest in May 2011.
Without the above resources and access, the Civil Society Forum will be like a watchdog condemned to bark outside the room.
At the end of my presentation I would like to thank the European Commission and some national governments for their pro-active support during last year to work and development of Civil Society Forum as important and respective actor within Eastern Partnership composition. Special thanks also to Poland for its initiative to host the third Civil Society Forum next November in Poznan.
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