Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum

CSF Present Results & Recommendations of Second CSF at the EaP Ministerial Meeting

On 13 December, 2010 the Eastern Partnership Ministerial meeting took place in Brussels. The objective of the meeting was to discuss the present state of play of the Eastern Partnership (EaP) and to focus and prepare for the EaP Summit, scheduled for May 2011 in Budapest.

The majority of the Foreign Affairs Ministers from both EU member states and EaP countries attended the meeting. Senior EU ministers, including Catherine Aston, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Stefan Fuele, Commissioner for Enlargement & European Neighbourhood Policy also attended the meeting.

Civil Society Forum representative Ulad Vialichka was invited to present during the meeting. As the Civil Society Forum (CSF) is not a permanent member, Mr Vialichka was unable to attend the full days proceedings. He had 15 minutes in which to deliver his presentation and be available for questions and answers.

The recommendations from the second CSF were recently finalised in a concrete and pragmatic manner. They were crafted in such a way as to give the opportunity to both EU and EaP government officials to learn more about the recommendations and how to implement the civil society proposals within the framework of the EaP. 

The main element of Ulad Vialichka presentation was to inform the audience of particular plans and projects of CSF participants. These included the visa liberalization project, monitoring report on human rights and the initiative on development of contacts between people in the sphere of culture, education, youth policy etc.

Special attention was given to the steps which civil society expects to be completed from the side of the EU and EaP national governments. Among these steps are the following:

  1. Establishment of a Brussels-based CSF Secretariat with a robust mandate and sufficient resources.
  2. “Permanent participant” status of the Civil Society Forum in official platform meetings, thematic working groups, expert panels and flagship initiatives, with prior access to draft policy documents;
  3. Facilitation via EU delegations of trilateral dialogue at the national level concerning bilateral agreements, including priority-setting in ENPI funding and review of financial perspectives; and prior access to draft plans and priorities that are subjects of the Action Plans and Association Agreements;
  4. Access to information at national level about overall and sector-by-sector financial flows of EC budget support;
  5. As in the Western Balkans, establishment of a distinct Civil Society Facility under the ENPI to finance the capacity of civil society organisations and support dialogue between CSOs and government.
  6. Possibility to get a seat for CSF representatives at the EaP Ministerial Summit in Budapest in May 2011.

After the presentation, Ms. Ashton and Czech Minister Schwarzenberger made positive comments on the CSF results. Unfortunately, there was no further discussion.

The next CSF Steering Committee meeting will be held on 1-2 February 2011 in Brussels. Developing relations between CSF and other partners and stakeholders and discussing the proactive development strategy of CSO activities within EaP will be key items on the agenda.

Prepared by CSF Steering Committee

Project funded by the European UnionEU