On 29 January 2021, the Balkan Civil Society Development Network (BCSDN) held a meeting with the Commission’s Directorate-General for Neighborhood and Enlargement Negotiations (DG NEAR) representatives working on Western Balkans. The discussion was followed by more than 30 representatives, including countries’ EUDs and TACSO representatives. The aim of the meeting was BCSDN to present its findings and key recommendations from the last cycle of the monitoring of the civil society enabling environment in the Western Balkans. The meeting was also an opportunity for exchanging information about recent developments affecting the civil society environment in the region, and forthcoming plans that may be useful and complementary to the common efforts of BCSDN and DG Near to contribute towards a strong and vibrant civil society.
Biljana Spasovska, BCSDN’s Executive Director, opened the meeting introducing BCSDN’s work and current programmes, and together with Tina Divljak, the President of the BCSDN Board, presented the key findings recommendations from the Regional Monitoring Matrix Report 2019. The most important developments in 2020 concerning the civil society environment in the countries in the region were also pointed, and elaborated in more detail by the representatives of BCSDN members from the Western Balkan countries that also took part at the meeting.
The last part of the meeting was dedicated to feedback from DG Near on the regional report and BCSDN’s monitoring process and the forthcoming activities of the EU Commission concerning the civil society development vis-à-vis the EU integration process. More specifically, the DG Near representatives talked about the process for the preparation of the new Guidelines for EU Support to Civil Society in the Enlargement region, 2021-2027, a key document promoting a more conducive environment for civil society to play a significant role in the countries’ development and the EU enlargement process. BCSDN substantive contribution to the consultation process for the Guidelines was also acknowledged.