The Comission is Open for Exchange and Cooperation – Response to the BCSDN Initiative on Programming IPA Support for Civil Society In the Western Balkans

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On the meeting, Mr. Yngve Engstroem, Head of Unit explained that the Commission approach in the region is to move away from donor dependency to building capacity of local stakeholders. In this context, the primary goal of the Civil Society Facility (CSF), as part of the IPA Multi-beneficiary (i.e. regional) Programmes is to enable the Commission to get continues influx of input for the IPA programming while also directly supporting networking and communication between CSOs. Reconciliation is and remains an important aspect of both the Multi-beneficiary programmes and the CSF.

As a response to demand for local CSOs to be involved in IPA programming, especially those related to the support to civil society such as the CSF, the Commission informed that they plan to put in place a new system for the programming 2011-2013. As it was highlighted, the challenge in the consultation for the Commission is how to involve civil society, but without “overdoing it”.

The Commission is also aware of the complicated application procedures for grants. For this reasons, future calls for proposal under the CSF would include smaller grants (under Commission standard this is approx. 50.000 EUR) and lower administration burden for the applicants.

BCSDN representatives expressed the network’s readiness for cooperation and partnership with the Commission. They stressed that there exist capacities among local CSOs and therefore, these should be involved in the IPA programming on national and regional level. Moreover, establishment of country helpdesks, which will support capacity building of CSOs in the Western Balkans and Turkey in the next 2 years, should base themselves on local capacities and know-how of the sector. It was stressed that only such an approach can provide for ownership and sustainably of the sector in each of the countries as most envisaged activities and services already exist.

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