Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum

EaP CSF showcases a new report: taking stock on EU civil society funding in EaP countries

A new report commissioned by the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum has been published by Europeum, Institute for European Policy. The paper “Taking Stock of EU Civil Society Funding in EaP Countries” addresses issues of the CSO funding and gives recommendations to the EU on how to make it more effective. The report examines two factors of EU EaP civil society funding: commitments made by the EU instruments to the local civil society and the budget of the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument.

The paper has found that the local CSOs – with exception of Azerbaijan – enjoy higher support from the EU external action instruments than other local actors. However the report has also demonstrated that the EaP CSOs receive much smaller share of the budget compared to other beneficiaries of the ENPI. For the ENPI budget heading researched, the EaP CSOs were committed EUR 7,130,950, which represents slightly less than 4% of the available funding. By comparison, the EU CSOs were committed EUR 15,999,926 (9%), EU public bodies EUR 27,982,209 (15%), international organisations (IOs) EUR 57,598,019 (32%), and EU consultancies and communication agencies EUR 71,967,773 (40%).

The report found that the EU consultancies consumed almost 40% of the relevant funding commitments. It is obvious that the EU is over-reliant, for various reasons, on for-profit consultancies in delivering technical and capacity-building support to the EaP countries in most policy areas. The report concludes that some consultancies bring specific expertise and knowhow but, in many other instances, the involvement of local actors should be considered.

The report includes several recommendations towards the EU on how to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of its funding: 

  • Enforce effective re-granting; whilst there is a commendable trend towards raising the re-granting thresholds, it is not widely used (or not widely enough) and the re-granted funding usually does not reach local small organisations or those in specific regions.
  • Enforce mandatory re-granting to the local actors and ceilings for administrative costs of projects implemented by the international organisations (IOs) on the basis of the EU funding.
  • Run checks on the distribution of funding among various categories of beneficiaries in order to get a full picture of funds allocated to the EU consultancies and IOs.
  • Include larger involvement of local CSOs in the strategic frameworks of cooperation with the IOs, securing the presence of the local civil society during all stages of the project cycle (planning, preparation and implementation) whenever possible.
  • Consider a permanent funding facility from which the operational costs of local CSOs could be covered during the “blind” periods of the EU funding cycle.
  • As the EU funding often does not reach the provinces and smaller or troubled regions, consider encouraging more intensive transfer of knowhow at the local level; encourage the cooperation of local professional EU-funded NGOs with local unregistered initiatives or movements.
  • Increase understanding and support of innovative projects; as one respondent of the survey put it: global calls for proposals are more supportive of innovation, but generally more conventional projects are selected at the end.
  • Allocate more funding to the flexible tools rather than replicating less flexible instruments and programmes; some organisations are better prepared to work with funding provided outside of the framework of heavy EU financial procedures (like via EED).
  • Reconsider and increase the allocated number of staff where necessary in order to achieve greater coherence along with a more forward-looking attitude and wider context when designing the local calls, as the capacities of EU Delegations are often stretched to their limits.

Full report

Project funded by the European UnionEU