Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum

New policy brief: How can the EaP CSF strengthen its advocacy function?

An EaP CSF commissioned report analysing the Forum’s advocacy efforts has recently been published by FRIDE researcher Natalia Shapovalova. Entitled “How to Strengthen the EaP CSF’s Advocacy Function?”, the report assesses the Forum’s advocacy function to date and suggests policy recommendations for improvement.

The starting-point of the analysis is the widely held perception that the Forum’s advocacy potential has not been fully exploited. As such, Ms. Shapovalova’s main argument is that the Forum’s presence in Brussels should be strengthened to ensure effective advocacy not only in the EaP region but also in the EU.

The findings of the paper are based on Forum documents, interviews with former and current members of the Steering Committee and coordination bodies of the National Platforms in the six EaP countries and recent studies on the Forum.

Policy Recommendations

A time-effective strategy would require some restructuring, without fundamentally revisiting the Forum's institutions. It can be done via:

  • advocacy priorities for EU-level action should be few, but broad enough to matter for all six EaP countries. Examples that have been frequently raised by the interviewees are: 1) security (from hard security and defence to soft security such as energy and environment); 2) human rights, democracy and good governance.
  • strengthening the advocacy capacity of the Secretariat which will lead on advocacy in Brussels by engaging interested and active members of the Forum and the NPs and will facilitate EU-level advocacy and help to build the advocacy capacity of the NPs. There is a number of ways  in which it can be done: by bringing necessary strategic planning and advocacy skills to the Secretariat, installing liaison officers for the NPs/WGs in the Secretariat, reinforcing the secretariats of the NPs to provide timely and quality input etc.
  • strengthening the capacity of the Steering Committee to ensure strategic guidance and oversight of the Forum’s advocacy, including a definition and overview of key advocacy objectives, evaluation of progress etc. The Steering Committee members should be empowered to gather input and be advocates themselves. Some incentives should be introduced to compensate for this function which requires abandoning a part of the duties within their own organisations
  • at the NP level, the Forum should support NP initiatives if they require  an EU-level advocacy component (“boomerang” pattern). It can be achieved by facilitating the advocacy of NPs in Brussels, but also designing joint campaigns or improving their advocacy capacity via trainings and information sharing.

Full policy paper

Project funded by the European UnionEU