EU Engagement with CSOs

EU engagenemt with CSOs

The EU recently reframed its concept of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), recognizing CSOs as important actors in their own right while developing a strategic approach to engage civil society in the European neighborhood and third countries. Independent and empowered CSOs are the core component of any democratic system. Hence, the EU’s definition includes "all non-State, not-for-profit structures […] through which people organise to pursue shared objectives and ideals, whether political, cultural, social or economic“.

Building on recent events such as the Arab Spring as well as international agreements like the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness and the Busan Partnership Document, a strategic re-orientation of the EU support to CSOs in development was needed. The EU Communication on CSOs in development also comes timely as it feeds into the design of the new EU external instruments by 2014. As the Heinrich Böll Foundation engages with its partner organizations to promote democracy, human rights and ecological sustainability worldwide, our work is directly affected by such policies. We welcome the EU’s strategic vision for CSOs engagement and applaud the Commission’s inclusive consultation process for this communication.

The Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung and its ENoP partners participated in the consultation process, mainly by providing best-practice examples of our experiences on the ground. Local CSOs bridge social and political processes as they establish the link to the population.  The strategy is aimed at CSOs in development, neighbourhood, and EU accession countries. We encourage facilitating an open and constructive dialogue with civil society in transition countries as well, as they too will be covered by the Partnership Instrument in the Multi-annual Financial Framework 2014 -2020. Moreover, Europe-based CSOs such as political foundations play a crucial role in facilitating the partnership between EU level and local partners by providing their expertise and relying on their well-established networks. Political foundations transfer knowledge, lessons learned and best practices to local CSOs and organize a wide range of capacity-building activities.

For further information, please visit the consultation website of the European Commission.