Invitation now open to apply for participation in the fourth meeting of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum (29-30 November 2012, Sweden)
Invitation now open to apply for participation in the fourth meeting of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum (29-30 November 2012, Sweden)
The Steering Committee of the EaP Civil Society Forum is now inviting all interested parties to submit expressions of interest to participate in the fourth meeting of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum. The submission of expressions of interest is a necessary step in the selection process to participate in the EaP CSF meeting in Sweden in 2012.
The meeting will be made possible thanks to the support of the European Commission/European External Action Service and the support of Sweden’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Submissions of expressions of interest (see application form attached) should be completed in English or Russian and sent before midnight CET, 18 June 2012, to the contact e-mail address: email@example.com
The first EaP CSF took place in Brussels on 16-17 November 2009 and gathered more than 200 CSOs. During the Forum, participants elected the CSF Steering Committee and tasked it with the responsibility of developing a procedure for selection of the participants for the next Forum. The CSF Steering Committee elaborated the procedure that was applied in the process of selection of the participants to the second meeting of the EaP CSF, which was held in Berlin on 18-19 November 2010, and to the third meeting held in Poznan on 28-30 November 2011. The fourth meeting of the EaP CSF will be held in Sweden on 29-30 November 2012.
The procedure for selection can be found in the attached call for expressions of interest, duly updated in line with the emergence of national platforms, the need for more explicit criteria to be shared with applicants to ensure the transparency of the process, and to reflect the increase from four to five working groups.
The European Commission/European External Action Service will be able to fund the travel and hotel accommodation during the Forum meeting only for the selected CSOs. It will be possible for the EC/EEAS to cover the travel and accommodation of up to 180 CSOs – a maximum of 130 from the EaP countries and a maximum of 50 from EU member states.
Note: Unlike in previous years, this year the EC/EEAS is funding the attendance of the selected EU CSO representatives.
The final list of CSOs invited to participate to the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum prepared by the CSF Steering Committee will be consulted with the European External Action Service/European Commission.
ENP Package, Country Progress Report – Armenia
The European Commission and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy published on 15 May 2012 the annual “neighbourhood package”, consisting of a joint communication (“Delivering on the new European Neighbourhood Policy”) making an assessment of the first year of implementation of the new ENP adopted in 2011, a separate joint communication proposing an “Eastern Partnership Road Map”, a report on the “Partnership for Democracy and Shared prosperity” with Southern Mediterranean (including a roadmap for future action), an Eastern Partnership progress report, 12 country reports (on developments in 2011 and with a set of recommendations for the future), including one on Armenia, and a statistical annex.
Within the Eastern Partnership, the negotiations for an EU-Armenia Association Agreement (AA) progressed at a good pace.
Armenia made substantial progress in implementing the “key recommendations” allowing for the launching of negotiations on a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA). Overall, Armenia made good progress in the areas of Democracy and Human Rights.
On the basis of this year’s report and with a view to sustained implementation of the ENP Action Plan in 2012, Armenia is invited to:
- Ahead of the upcoming presidential elections scheduled in 2013, address the shortcomings identified by OSCE/ODIHR concerning the May 2012 Parliamentary elections, in order to fully meet recognized international democratic standards
- Step up efforts with Azerbaijan to reach agreement on the Madrid Principles in accordance with the commitments made by the Presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan in the framework of the Minsk Group.
- Provide unconditional access for representatives of the EU to Nagorno Karabakh and surrounding regions.
- Fully investigate the deaths that occurred during the clashes of March 2008 and the allegations of ill-treatment in police custody and violation of due process.
- Ensure finalisation and implementation of the National Human Rights Strategy and Action Plan.
- Adopt amendments to the legislation on broadcasting in compliance with the recommendations of the OSCE and the Council of Europe, and ensure pluralism in the broadcasting media.
- Finalise the draft law on Conscience and Religious Freedoms, in line with international standards as well as the legislation on alternative civilian service, in conformity with Venice Commission and OSCE recommendations.
- Adopt comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation, including further steps leading to the harmonisation of legislation with the EU acquis in the areas of gender equality and non-discrimination.
- Strengthen enforcement of the Anti-Corruption Strategy and boost capacity for combating corruption.
- Strengthen the implementation of the reform agenda presented by the Armenian authorities, including measures to reform public administration and the judicial sector (especially increase the independence of the judiciary, improve the training of judges, review the code of criminal procedure, pursue the Police Reform Programme).
- Continue to advance sectoral reforms and regulatory approximation to the EU acquis in trade and trade-related areas based on the key and additional recommendations identified in the preparation for the DCFTA.
- Work towards the earliest possible closure of the Medzamor Nuclear Power Plant and adopt a detailed decommissioning plan for this plant, taking into account the result of stress tests.
Political dialogue and reform
- In the area of deep and sustainable democracy, positive steps were taken to prepare the country for upcoming elections, with changes in the electoral code and a presidential amnesty for the remaining persons detained for charges related to the March 2008 events. There are however concerns about media freedom relating to the limitations on TV broadcasting and to suits for insult and defamation. Significant restrictions to the freedom of assembly and association remain. Despite a strong reform effort, public trust in the judiciary continues to be low, and perception of corruption high.
- Civilian control over the security forces is effective. Despite information about incident being published by the Ministry of Defence, impunity for human rights violations committed by members of the security forces is a matter of concern.
- No significant progress occurred in the area of freedom of religion and belief. The alternative civilian service continues to remain a problem in 2011 both in legislation and practice. The government was active in strengthening the legal framework to ensure children’s rights and gender equality. As regards civil society, registration requirements for non governmental organizations (NGOs) are cumbersome and time-consuming, while labour organisations are weak and relatively inactive in practice.
- The National Preventive Mechanism under the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture should be further strengthened. Cases of torture and ill treatment among military conscripts, in prison facilities and police stations are not adequately investigated.
- Negotiations on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict within the Minsk Group led to no tangible results in 2011. Amidst increasing tension along the Line of Contact, mediation efforts resulted in marginal progress on the investigation of the violation of the ceasefire agreement.
Economic and social reform
- As the authorities maintained prudent macroeconomic policies and introduced several structural reforms, Armenia showed encouraging signs of recovery(4.6% growth rate in 2011) after the severe recession that resulted from the international crisis in 2009.
- The economy was supported by an IMF financing arrangement and exceptional donor assistance, including Macro-Financial Assistance from the EU worthEUR 100 million.
- Armenia continued to progress towards meeting the objectives of the Action Plan in the area of macroeconomic policy, poverty reduction and social cohesion. Longer-term growth prospects are very uncertain due to lack of diversification, low competitiveness and closed borders with two out of four Armenia’s neighbour countries.
- In 2011, 6 % of the population was unemployed and 36% was below the poverty line. The implementation of Armenia’s Sustainable Development Programme on poverty reduction 2008-2021 continued to be suspended in 2011.
Trade-related issues, market and regulatory reform
- Bilateral trade continued to improve in 2011 from the 2009 slowdown with 18.2% increase year-on-year. EU exports to Armenia increased by 15.7%, while EU imports from Armenia increased by 23.3%.
- Armenia made substantial progress in implementing the “key recommendations” for the launching of negotiations on a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area, in particular legislative and institutional reforms in the areas of Technical Barriers to Trade, Sanitary and Phytosanitary Standards and Intellectual Property Rights. It adopted for example a food safety strategy.
- 23 laws were adopted between February and April with the aim of improving business climate and to facilitate company establishment.
Cooperation on justice, freedom and security
- Following adoption of the 2010 Border Security and Border Management Strategy 2011-2015, Armenia approved an implementation Action Plan in April. A National Action Plan 2012-2016 for the implementation of the Concept for the Policy of State Regulation of Migration was adopted in November.
- Directives for the negotiation between the EU and Armenia of visa facilitation and readmission agreements were adopted by the EU in December and were launched on 27th February 2012. In October 2011, the EU-Armenia Mobility Partnership was established, proposing cooperation in four major areas (mobility, legal migration and integration; migration and development; fight against irregular immigration; asylum and international protection).
- Armenia adopted national strategy and programmes or legislative amendments to improve effectiveness of the fight against organised crime,terrorism, drug trafficking, money laundering and trafficking in human beings.
Transport, energy, environment, the information society, research and development
- Transport: Armenia continued to implement its 2009-2020 transport strategy. In July, Armenia became a full member of the Organisation for International Carriage by Rail.
- Energy: Armenia started updating its energy strategy and adopted a renewable energy roadmap. The EU continues to request the closure of Medzamor Nuclear Power Plant as soon as possible, as it cannot be upgraded to meet internationally recognised nuclear safety standards. Armenia expressed readiness to undertake with the EU a comprehensive risk and safety assessment of the plant, taking account of EU standards. Armenia became observer of the Energy Community.
- Climate change: The government adopted a five year action plan for the implementation of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Armenia is encouraged to engage in the new carbon market mechanism to be developed following the UNFCCC COP 17, as well as to fully implement the Cancun and Durban agreements.
- Environment: Armenia started preparing a new environment action plan post 2012. The Regional Environmental Centre for the Caucasus continued its activities in 2011; its founders want to see its role enhanced in the years to come and tried to find a solution to its debt problem
- Research and innovation: Armenia continued to increase the number of applications to the 7th Framework Programme (24 research organisations involved in 22 projects).
People-to-people contacts, education and health
- Education: Higher education reform continued to benefit from EU-Armenia cooperation and support via the Tempus IV programme (two additional projects), the Erasmus Mundus programme (49 scholarships and mobility grants), the Marie Curie scheme (seven institutions and six individual researchers) and the Jean Monnet programme (one module awarded to Yerevan State University).
- Culture: Armenia participated in four projects under the 2010 Special Action for ENP countries under the Culture Programme. The Youth Parliament of the Armenian National Assembly started its work in May 2011. Youth organisations continued benefitting from the exchange opportunities under the Youth in Action programme (380 participants).
- Health: Reform continued with a view to improving, within the limited available financial means, access to, availability of and quality of health care services. Special attention was paid to address the burden of tuberculosis.
EU bolsters its support to reformers in its Southern and Eastern neighbourhoods
In May 2011, in the midst of dramatic changes sweeping the Southern Neighbourhood, the EU completed a major review of its European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP). According to a policy of “more for more”, committed reformers in the EU’s Southern and Eastern neighbourhood would be awarded greater and broader EU support.
The ENP package presented today, by Catherine Ashton, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Commission Vice-President and Štefan Füle, EU Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy, assesses the first year of implementation of the new approach. It also proposes a roadmap for giving further impetus to the implementation of the Eastern Partnership.
Over the last twelve months, the EU has responded with determination to a fast – changing situation in its neighbourhood. The joint Communication assesses the results of the new policy:
- The EU re-oriented assistance programmes and made EUR 1 billion more available in 2011-2013 to be channelled through new innovative programmes – SPRING for the Southern Neighbourhood and EaPIC for the Eastern Neighbourhood. It increased the lending ceilings of the European Investment Bank by EUR 1.15 billion, and successfully proposed the extension of the mandate of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development to the EU’s southern neighbours.
- Applying the reform-rewarding logic of “more for more”, the EU has supported those partners embarking on political reforms. In Tunisia the EU has doubled its financial assistance from EUR 80 million to EUR 160 million in 2011. The EU has also been quick to curtail relations with countries grossly violating human rights, and impose wide ranging sanctions against those regimes, instead channelling its support towards civil society and affected populations.
- The resumption of official 5+2 talks on the settlement of the Transnistrian conflict in the Republic of Moldova was been accompanied by intensified co-operation with the Government of Moldova, the launch of large-scale EU confidence building measures and a step-by-step review of EU sanctions against Transnistria.
- A Civil Society Facility covering all ENP countries was launched in September with an initial budget of EUR 26 million for 2011 and similar additional amounts planned for 2012 and 2013.
Upon finalisation of the assessment, High Representative Catherine Ashton declared: “Last year, we re-launched our Neighbourhood Policy to reflect the historic changes going on around us. We now see the first results of this review, which sought to intensify assistance to those who went further in democratic and economic reforms. We have seen great progress in some countries. In others, we need to encourage the political leadership to take bold steps down the path to reform. I have always said that we will be judged on our work with our immediate neighbours, and I am convinced that we are moving in the right direction. We will continue to help our partners in their efforts to embed fundamental values and reinforce the economic reforms which are necessary to create what I call ‘deep democracy’.”
Štefan Füle added “While we should not indulge in self-congratulation and we should always make a reality check about the effectiveness of our policy, we have set the new policy on solid grounds and have developed many initiatives that I am confident are already bearing fruit”.
There was substantial progress on political association with partner countries. Negotiations on an Association Agreement (AA) have been launched with the Republic of Moldova, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan. Progress has been made on economic integration (so called Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Areas as an integral part of AAs); negotiations were launched with Moldova and Georgia, and will shortly be launched with Armenia. Similar negotiations with Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia are likely to be opened before the end of the year.
While AA (including DCFTA) negotiations were finalised with Ukraine, followed by the Agreement’s initialling in March, remaining concerns about the domestic political situation in Ukraine have cast doubts about the early signature and ratification of this agreement, unless these concerns are addressed.
Significant progress has also been made in the area of mobility. Steps were taken towards visa liberalisation with Eastern partners, namely the Republic of Moldova, Ukraine and Georgia. A mobility partnership has been recently established with Armenia and negotiations on mobility partnership with Azerbaijan could be launched soon. A special offer in this area has been made to Belarus. In the South, dialogues on migration, mobility and security were launched with Morocco and Tunisia, opening the way to mobility partnerships. The Communication proposes to initiate a dialogue with Jordan.
Following the request made by the March 2012 European Council, the staff working document on the “Partnership for Democracy and Shared Prosperity” proposes a Roadmap including objectives, instruments and actions for the implementation of EU policies towards Southern Mediterranean partners.
As agreed at the Eastern Partnership Summit in Warsaw in 2011, a separate joint Communication proposes A Roadmap to the autumn 2013 Eastern Partnership Summit. The Communication describes for the first time the full range of bilateral and multilateral activities under the Eastern Partnership. The Roadmap reconfirms the shared commitment of the EU and the Eastern European partner countries to democratic reforms and economic transformation, and sets out an ambitious work programme in view of next year’s summit in Vilnius. It will give impetus to objectives of the Eastern Partnership: to accelerate political association and deepen economic integration of the partner countries with the EU; to increase the mobility of citizens in a secure and well managed environment; and to foster cooperation across a wide range of sectors.
“The Eastern Partnership addresses the issue of unfinished transformation” commented High Representative Ashton. “I am confident that the Roadmap will help partner countries accelerate their transition towards democracy and market-oriented economy by providing a monitoring tool in support of their reform process. The more partner countries achieve tangible progress in their reform efforts, the more the EU will be prepared to support them. It is also vital that partners make renewed efforts to resolve the conflicts which have blighted the region for far too long. The EU stands ready to strengthen its support to those who are ready to take courageous decisions and turn the page.”
Commissioner Füle added: “I am pleased to see that this policy tool has been developed further to consultations held with EU Member States, our Eastern European partners, and civil society. The Roadmap lays out in a transparent way for all partners the range of objectives of the Eastern Partnership, the expected policy actions on the part of our partners, the EU support to achieve these objectives, and an indication of what can be achieved by the next Eastern Partnership Summit to be held in autumn 2013.”
The documents available include:
- The joint Communication: “Delivering on a new European Neighbourhood Policy”.
- The joint Communication: “A Roadmap to the autumn 2013 Eastern Partnership Summit”.
- Two joint Staff working documents providing details on the Eastern Partnership Roadmap bilateral and multilateral dimensions.
- Twelve joint Staff working documents assessing progress made by individual ENP country partners (country reports),
- A report on “Partnership for Democracy and Shared Prosperity”, concerning Southern Mediterranean including the roadmap.
- A report on the “Eastern Partnership”
- A statistical annex.
- A set of 16 Memos, summarising the state of the play in the neighbouring countries.
Call for Nominations for the Advisory Committee of the Eastern Partnership Culture Programme
May 21, 2012
The Eastern Partnership Culture Programme is pleased to announce this call for nominations of individuals to serve as members of an Advisory Committee to be established under the Eastern Partnership Culture Programme.
Objectives of the Eastern Partnership Culture Programme
The overall objective of the regional Eastern Partnership Culture Programme is to support the role of culture in the region’s sustainable development and to promote regional cooperation.
The Programme’s specific objectives are to:
- promote policy reform and modernisation at the government level (national and local), capacity building of cultural organisations, and the ‘professionalization’ of the culture sector in the Eastern Neighbourhood region;
- contribute to exchange of information, experience, and best practices among culture staff at the regional level and with the EU;
- support regional initiatives and partnerships, which demonstrate the positive contributions of culture to economic development, social inclusion, conflict resolution, and inter-cultural
Scope and Work of the Advisory Committee
The Advisory Committee will provide for a wider reflection on the strategic orientation of the Eastern Partnership Culture Programme and its future. It will present to the European Commission its recommendations, which, after approval, will be published and disseminated among all the stakeholders of the Eastern Partnership Culture Programme.
The reflection of the Advisory Committee will be based on the findings of the Regional Report and the six Country Base Line Reports elaborated by the Regional Monitoring and Capacity Building Unit (RMCBU) of the Eastern Partnership Culture Programme, as well as on the yearly Programme Progress Reports. Furthermore, the Advisory Committee will take insights into activities planned by the fifteen Regional Projects granted under the Eastern Partnership Culture Programme and the activities planned by the RMCBU. Each meeting of the Committee will allow its members to observe the practical work of the Programme as the meetings will be held back to back with Programme events.
The Advisory Committee will be a working committee, and its members will actively engage in researches and debates within its intended scope to produce results in the form of written
It is expected that the Advisory Committee will have five working meetings organised within the period of July 2012 – March 2015.
Composition of the Advisory Committee
It is expected that the Advisory Committee will comprise 12 members from the Eastern Partnership countries with expertise to cover the different culture sectors. All nominations for the Advisory Committee shall be subject to final approval of the European Commission.
Members of the Advisory Committee are expected to share and support the overall and specific objectives of the Eastern Partnership Culture Programme.
This call for nominations for the Advisory Committee is addressed to:
- Decision makers, policy makers responsible for culture or culture education policies,
- Researchers in the field of culture,
- Representatives of public cultural institutions,
- Representatives of the private culture sector including cultural industries,
- Independent art creators,
- either involved in culture policy research or elaboration or are opinion leaders with regard to culture policies;
- motivated to contribute to an inclusive regional policy dialogue, which integrates all stakeholder groups concerned from all six countries: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine;
- willing to actively contribute to the work of the Advisory Committee on a voluntary basis (no fees will be paid; the Eastern Partnership Culture Programme will cover travel and accommodation costs of the Committee members);
- available for the work required by the Advisory Committee (at least five meetings during July 2012 – March 2015 plus necessary working time to be invested in between meetings); and
- able to actively participate in the meetings with English as the working language.
Please note that this call does not extend to cover candidates representing public administration authorities as Ministries of Culture are among the key beneficiaries of the Programme and as such are already regularly consulted by the Programme.
Candidates are invited to express their interest by sending in their CVs together with a motivation letter to the Regional Monitoring and Capacity Building Unit (RMCBU) of the Eastern Partnership Culture Programme at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Deadline for submission of expressions of interest: 27th of May 2012.
Please kindly note that the first Advisory Committee Meeting will be held within the first week of July in one of the Eastern Partnership countries.