Find out the latest on EU-related activities and events in the Western Balkans
On behalf of the EU’s Directorate-General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations (DG NEAR), the third EU Technical Assistance for Civil Society Organisations (TACSO) project organised the EU Western Balkans and Turkey Civil Society Forum in Skopje on 8 – 9 June. This is the first time the Forum has taken place since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
A total of 120 participants attended the Forum in person and an additional 100 online. They included senior officials from the European Commission, EU delegations, and governments as well as diverse representatives from civil society organisations. In the light of recent dramatic developments in Europe – namely the COVID-19 pandemic and Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine – the Forum provided an opportunity to better understand challenges and opportunities in the region, and the role of civil society in helping to respond.
Michela Matuella, Acting Director of the Western Balkans Directorate at DG NEAR, said, “The Western Balkans remain a priority for the EU, and the EU remains fully engaged in advancing the EU accession process. In this framework, civil society organisations are key partners. All stakeholders involved need to work with a shared vision on how the role of civil society can be optimised. It is here that the ‘Guidelines for EU Support to Civil Society in the Enlargement Region 2021-2027’ come into the picture. Special focus should be placed on engaging the younger generation, to allow them to help make the region an attractive place to live, do business, and realise their ambitions”.
The main objective of the Forum was to launch these revised “Guidelines for EU Support to Civil Society in the Enlargement Region 2021-2027”. The Guidelines set out objectives for EU assistance to civil society, provide a tool for governments to improve cooperation with civil society, and help to measure progress towards meeting conditions for EU integration.
Between 2014 and 2020, the EU provided around €330 million in support for civil society through the Civil Society Facility and Media Programme, while the amount planned for 2021-2023 is €218 million. The Guidelines will assist the EU in assessing the impact of this support.
Photo credits: TACSO
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