Monitoring Matrix Regional Report 2019: Not Many Changes Were Introduced to Improve the Enabling Environment for CSDev in the WB

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The Balkan Civil Society Development Network (BCSDN) is pleased to present the 2019 edition of the Monitoring Matrix on Enabling Environment for Civil Society Development, examining developments in the Western Balkan countries (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia).

The Regional Report summarizes the findings and recommendations from all the country reports for 2019. A web platform offering access to the monitoring data per country is also available at www.monitoringmatrix.net .

In 2019, the general situation in the Western Balkans faced socio-economic and political challenges, affecting the environment and operations of civil society. The political environment in most countries remained unfavorable, especially towards civil society development.

According to the findings for 2019, freedom of association continues to be legally guaranteed in all countries of the region. However, a few challenges remain. Shortcomings in protection against unwarranted interference of the state in CSO affairs have not been fully addressed. Even though basic freedoms continue to be legally guaranteed, countries need to strengthen accountability of all relevant institutions in charge of protection and enforcement of these fundamental rights. The legislative and tax framework for CSOs continues to pose challenges for donors in most of the countries. Foreign donors are the dominant source of funding and that the area lacks diversification. The legislation and policies pertaining to employment do not take into account the specific nature of CSO operation. CSO-state relationships are regulated by legal and/or policy documents in all of the countries. Dialogue with public authorities has been limited, particularly with regard to CSO involvement in the decision-making processes. Legal frameworks for service provision continue to be unsupportive of CSOs as service providers, resulting in only a few public service contracts.

Overall, not many changes were introduced in 2019 to improve the enabling environment for development of civil society in the Western Balkans region.

Key recommendations of the report

  1. Legal guarantees for freedom of association, freedom of assembly and other related freedoms should be enforced and the current framework should be properly implemented in practice;
  2. Fiscal regulations on CSO income and tax incentives for donors need to be revised to provide more supportive tax treatment for CSOs;
  3. Public funding mechanisms need to be reformed and their rules properly implemented to ensure relevant, transparent and accountable redistribution procedures;
  4. Stimulating legislation and programmes should be adopted and implemented to promote volunteering and employment;
  5. Mechanisms for cooperation between CSOs and public institutions with clearly outlined responsibilities need to be put in place and made functional through efficient allocation of funds and skilled human resources;
  6. CSOs should be regularly involved in the decision and policy-making processes at all levels, including unrestricted access to information and inclusion in the early stages of consultation;
  7. The state should improve CSOs involvement in the provision of services.

Read more and download the report here.

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