IN THE SPOTLIGHT
The Prague Eastern Partnership Summit of 2009 endorsed the idea of establishing an Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum which would promote contacts among civil society organisations of the Eastern Partnership and facilitate dialogue with public authorities. The aim of the Forum was to facilitate the sharing of information and experience on the partner countries' paths towards transition, reform and modernisation.
Following the European Commission Communication on the Eastern Partnership from December 2008, a Concept Paper on the Civil Society Forum was drafted that favoured a comprehensive approach allowing for the participation of a wide range of CSOs: trade unions, employers' organisations, professional associations, NGOs, think-tanks, non-profit foundations, national and international CSOs/networks, and other relevant civil society actors from Eastern Partnership countries, but also from EU Member States as well as international organisations and networks.
The European Commission underlined that "ongoing reforms [in Eastern Partner countries] require stronger participation of civil society to enhance oversight of public services and strengthen public confidence in them".
It also proposed "to support the further development of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs)" and in particular, "to establish an Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum to promote contacts among CSOs and facilitate their dialogue with public authorities."
In June 2009, all interested parties were invited to submit their expressions of interest to participate in the first EaP CSF Annual Meeting, later renamed General Assembly, in Brussels. Over 200 CSOs attended the first General Assembly on 16-17 November 2009. During the meeting, participants elected the EaP CSF Steering Committee to serve as its governing body.
Since then, the EaP CSF holds an Annual Assembly every autumn and the Steering Committee meets four times a year. In order to support the work of the Steering Committee, a Secretariat was set up in Brussels, Belgium in August 2012 and has been fully operational since December 2012
EaP CSF at a glance