Eastern Promises: Supporting Civil Society in the Eastern Partnership Countries
By Elzbieta Kaca and Piotr Kazmierkiewicz
The experience of the post-Soviet countries shows that civil society (CS) plays an important role in democratisation and institutional (governance) reforms, which are central to the EU agenda in its relations with the Eastern Partnership countries. However, the effectiveness of EU support has been limited so far by factors such as the incoherence of EU policy which can be seen in the insufficient coordination of assistance activities carried out by EU institutions and the Member States as well as bureaucratic obstacles, making it difficult for social partners from the recipient countries to use the support.
The growing importance of civil society has been reflected in the priorities of the EU policies to wards individual East European countries (where those issues have become priorities expressed in the bilateral action plans) and in the structure of the new assistance instruments. It can be assumed that, together with the introduction of the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI) and the new thematic programmes, there appear to be potentially more opportunities for civil society as compared to TACIS, which provided technical assistance.
While analysing the policy of the European Union, one can not disregard the fact that the policy is implemented within the context of the Member States’ activities. The growing involvement of EU institutions should supplement and enhance actions under taken by the Member States which continue to contribute the majority of the Europe an pool of funds for civil society and which, along with the American donors, are the most recognisable in the region. The task of this analysis is to determine to what extent declarations of the will to increase support for civil society in the region are reflected in the allocation of funds from the EU budget and how those efforts are assessed by representatives of civil society in the recipient countries as far as their appropriateness and effectiveness are concerned.
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