BCSDN, in partnership with European Center for Non-profit Law (ECNL), has published the second Regional Report on Enabling Environment for Civil Society Development in Enlargement Countries, presenting the regional state of play of civil society in 2014 and highlighting the priorities for intervention by national and EU insittutions at the regional level towards creating a more enabling environment for civil society.
According to the findings for 2014, the legal environment for CSOs in the Western Balkans and Turkey remained relatively stable. Freedom of association, assembly, expression and information continued to be legally guaranteed in all countries of the region, with the exception of Turkey, however ensuring proper implementation and respect of the legal guarantees in practice remains challenging in most countries. CSOs continuously struggled to secure their financial sustainability in the whole region. State support in 2014 was too often distributed through non-transparent mechanisms, and remained insufficient. Governments continued to adopt national strategies for cooperation with CSOs and documents setting standards for the involvement of CSOs in policy and decision-making processes, but, again, the implementation of these documents in practice remains very problematic and CSOs are insufficiently included in these processes. The following are the key recommendations directed towards national governments and relevant EU institutions which are considered a priority for the region:
Key recommendations for national institutions:
- Legal guarantees of freedom of association should be properly implemented in practice.
- Legal guarantees of freedom of assembly and other related freedoms should be respected.
- Favorable fiscal treatment of CSOs through amendments of the relevant tax laws needs to be secured.
- State policies need to stimulate the employment and volunteering in CSOs.
- Mechanisms for allocation and distribution of public funding need to be reformed and respected.
- Fully functional strategic and institutional mechanisms for CSO-Government cooperation are needed.
- Proper involvement of CSOs in decision and policy-making processes is needed.
Key recommendations for EU institutions:
- Enabling framework for civil society needs to be a priority in the negotiation process.
- EU should support capacity building of public institutions, but with partnership involvement of CSOs in all stages of the process.
- EU funds for civil society need to be distributed transparently and in a depoliticized manner.
The regional report summarizes the key findings from the eight country reports in the Western Balkans and Turkey, prepared by using the Monitoring Matrix on Enabling Environment for Civil Society Development and the accompanying Toolkit, and compares its findings with the results of the Monitoring Matrix Regional Report for 2013. In addition, the authors of this report recognize the value and parallels of the Monitoring Matrix with the recently adopted EU Guidelines for Support to Civil Society in the Enlargement Countries for the period 2014-2020, and are pleased to provide an assessments vis-à-vis their objectives throughout the Report.
On 4th June 2014, BCSDN presented the new Monitoring Matrix Regional Report at the“Norms over Forms” debate at the European Parliament, discussing how the accession process can promote a more enabling environment for civil society development and conferring the value and importance of the civil society for the reform and accession processes in the Enlargement countries.
The full Report is available for download here.