BCSDN Background Analysis of the Enlargement Package 2019: A Star Is Born, but the Region Is Not Shining

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For the 10th consecutive year, BCSDN has analyzed how the European Commission has treated the issue of civil society development and assessed the progress made in the Enlargement countries within the Commission Enlargement Package 2019 published recently, setting the analysis against BCSDN’s Monitoring Matrix on Enabling Environment for Civil Society Development.

Along with the progress reports, the EC published a Communication on EU Enlargement Policy, noting with a remarkably positive tone the historic agreement on a 27-year long dispute achieved by the country now called North Macedonia, and profound reforms in the area of rule of law in in North Macedonia and in Albania. The EC recommends opening of accession negotiations for both countries and gives a fair warning that “failure to reward objective progress by moving to the next stage of the European path would damage the EU’s credibility throughout the region and beyond“. The Communication points out however, that the other countries have stagnated in their efforts, in particular in the crucial areas of rule of law and fundamental rights highlighting that these shortcomings “often correlate with a lack of political will, institutional resistance and an increasingly hostile environment for civil society”.

Increasing threats to basic freedom are reported in almost all of the countries, with most serious deteriorations continuing in Turkey. Need for (further) improving the consultation process with civil society and its meaningful involvement in policy and decision-making processes are common to all reports. Improvement in the legal, institutional and financial environment this year are noted in Montenegro, but a special praise was given to North Macedonia for “continuous improvement” in the civil society enabling environment. For the first time, the statement which was common in all previous reports, is now modified to emphasize that “empowered civil society is a crucial component of any democratic system and is recognized as such by state institutions”.

Read the full analysis here.

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