In its 2007 Enlargement Strategy, the European Commission for the first time identified civil society development and civil society dialogue as a core priority of the enlargement process in the Western Balkans and announced setting up of a Facility to support it.
The priority has been translated to benchmarks for most of the countries under the Political criteria for it to advance in the EU integration process. The challenge and debated remains on how useful and effective are the benchmarks are to the work by the local CSOs in advancing civil society dialogue and development and how much emphasis and priority both the EC and the Governments are giving to these benchmarks. A challenge remains whether a civil society Acquis would help in furthering and complement the work of local CSOs.
The Civil Society Facility (CSF) set up to support achieving the above priorities and benchmarks, with a budget of up to 18 million Euros yearly, is significantly determining the shape of the further development of civil society in the Western Balkans. Local CSOs have not been significantly involved in the design and are to some extent involved in the implementation.
Local CSOs should be included as partners in further design of support under the CSF, its monitoring and should build capacities to become familiar better with functioning of the EU institutions and involvement in policy-work at the EU level.
Welcome to the 1st Balkan on-line database on civil dialogue mechanisms and structures!
For the first time, the database provides complete information on the state of civil dialogue in the Balkan countries in one place. The data include information on the legal framework, current situation, history and concrete mechanisms and structures that exist in each country. The database gathers date for 10 countries, both 7 EU pre- and accession countries and 3 Balkan EU Member States (Bulgaria, Romania and Slovenia). The data were gathered through a unified questionnaire by BCSDN members and its partners, primarily from secondary sources or research conducted for their own needs, which makes this database a collaboration of local CSOs, especially BCSDN members and its partners. As the database provides an overview, links (where available) to original documents for more information and up-date on the situation in the individual countries have also been provided in the list of state framework documents. Moreover, it also includes a list of Governmental offices for cooperation with CSOs or similar contact structures as further source of information and up-date. The data cover the period (as much as possible) till May, 2010, when the data were last up-dated. Finally, based on the data gathered BCSDN produced a regional comparative analysis and list of 10 recommendations on how civil dialogue can be improved, especially the context of EU enlargement and support given by the European Commission to this area. The analysis and recommendations are available in the Balkan Civic Practices #7: The Missing Link? Development and Functioning of Civil Dialogue in the Western Balkans. Please, note that the database is still being filled-in and is therefore, not yet fully available.