IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Meeting with Stakeholders from Civil Society European Neighbourhood Policy
On the 13th December, civil society representatives from the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) areas met with EU staff.
The EaP Civil Society Forum (CSF) Steering Committee was ably represented by Antonella Valmorbida (Director of ALDA). Ms Valmorbida presented the recommendations of the EaP Working Groups and the Memorandum to the Directorate-General for the External Relations (DG Relex), the unit responsible for reviewing the ENP programmes.
In addition, observations and comments from civil society from each of the 6 partner countries was discussed. The meeting was chaired by M. Egidio Canciani, Deputy Head of Unit, European Neighbourhood Policy General Coordination.
The ENP progress report has been on-going for months and they have already consulted a number of stakeholders, including the representatives of the Governments. Now, they are including civil society and are holding consulting meetings like this meeting. They also have an email to get feedback where civil society members can contribute in writing. (check the EU website).
The trend coming from the ENP progress unit is “upgrade” of relationships and “differentiation”, that can be better expressed in bilateral views. They focus in the short term on Free trade areas; which needs driving reforms such as corruption and administrative reforms.
They have been also called to clearly deal with the existing conflicts (in Southern Caucasus, for instance, but also between Israel and Occupied Territories). Civil Society is clearly an ally when it comes to reforms.
They will focus on an action plan, synchronizing assistance with ENP policy and resources.
The Ministerial Meeting of ENPI is in January 2011 and the Commission come devise a proposal by the 28th of April, together with the Report of the Review. They will identify policies after 2013 at the start of the new programming period.
As part of the meeting, the EU representatives were questioned about the “budget support” to States in the framework of the ENP, who would request better transparency and information to the civil society.
It was agreed that the work of the Council of Europe is excellent as they work on the possible leveraging of the conventions on human rights and democracy (like the European Charter on Local Self Government) signed by the States of the EaP (excluding Belarus).
In summary, the message conveyed by the NGO present included: