The Steering Committee of the EaP Civil Society Forum is inviting all interested parties to submit expressions of interest to participate in the fifth 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 Chisinau in 2013.
The annual CSF meeting brings together about 200 representatives of civil society organisations from the EaP region and the EU. It is an event at which officials of the European Commission, European External Action Service, governments of the EU and EaP countries address the assembly of civil society representatives and present their views on the Eastern Partnership and developments in the EaP region and the involvement of the Civil Society Forum in it. The Forum provides a platform for a debate on the achievements of the EaP and how civil society can further contribute to the success of the programme. The annual Forum provides guidance for the work the CSF during the upcoming year and gives an opportunity for an exchange of opinions and expertise. It is an event during which civil society representatives debate on the future actions, adopt resolutions and participate in thematic panels of their choice. The Steering Committee – the governing body of the Forum – is elected at this event.
The meeting will be made possible thanks to the support of the European Commission/European External Action Service, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Moldova and the Lithuanian 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, 19 May 2013 to the contact e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org
The procedure for selection can be found in the attached call for expressions of interest, duly updated in line with the need for more explicit criteria to be shared with applicants to ensure the transparency of the process.
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 Civil Society Organisations – a maximum of 130 from the EaP countries and a maximum of 50 from EU member states in total.
Civil Society Organisations from Poland, Moldova, Ukraine and Armenia decided to start a project on Conflict of Interest (CoI) within the framework of WG 1 Sub-Group “Fight against Corruption” as an important part of this fight. CoI represent one of the main causes of widespread corruption in EaP countries and therefore, the participating civil society organisations decided to join their efforts.
Although CoI is supposed to be an important part of the fight against corruption, the legal framework in the respective countries on this issue is rather short, as the following list shows:
In Poland, CoI is regulated by several legal acts. Members of the Government are regulated by the Act on Limitation of Economic Activity by Persons Exercising a Public Function and the Council of Ministers resolution on the Rules and Regulations on Work of the Council of Ministers, while Parliamentarians – by the Act on the Exercising the Deputy or Senator Mandate. Other public officials are regulated by the Act on Limitation of Economic Activity by Persons Exercising Public Functions. Although Poland has a well-developed regulatory framework, the understanding of CoI is low among public officials, and media covers numerous stories of CoI involving high ranking public officials.
Moldova: A recent study by TI-Moldova shows that even though the Law on CoI has been adopted in 2008, it still lacks an implementation mechanism. Also, only ¾ of public servants from the Central Public Authorities (CPA) can correctly define ‘conflict of interest’, the majority of their staff members did not declare their interests as required by the Law and did not receive any sanctions. The Main Integrity Commission, the institution in charge of supervising the implementation of CoI legislation, has been recently created, but did not start its activity.
Ukraine: In 2008, a draft Law on CoI was elaborated, but failed to be adopted by the Parliament. Some provisions on CoI came into force in July 2011 and are currently included into a more general Law on Preventing and Combating Corruption. The Law states that civil servants and politicians are obliged to prevent CoI and report them to their superiors. The new provision in the Code on Administrative Offences states that failure to report CoI is punishable by fine. The country is still at the initial stages of implementing a new law and therefore, no practice of reporting CoI was established and no administrative cases on CoI were opened.
Armenia does not have a separate law on CoI, but a set of provisions is incorporated into the Law on Public Service, adopted in May 2011 and enforced since January 2012. Although Art. 28 of the Law on Public Service ambiguously addresses CoI situations for public servants in general, it defines the notion of CoI only for high-ranking officials. The Law establishes an Ethics Commission for High-ranking Officials responsible for CoI policies. The Commission can issue recommendations, but does not have authority to impose sanctions. Oversight and detection of CoI are still vague. In practice, CoI incidence, especially among high-ranking officials, is rather frequent.
The action of the involved civil society organisations of the sub-group on the fight against corruption aims at consolidating the capacity of civil society organisations in monitoring CoI policies and synergising effort to conduct a constructive dialogue with their governments to improve the quality of governance. Within the action the respective governments are called to align themselves to European values and standards concerning CoI policies as they are expressed in the Council of Europe’s Recommendation on Codes of Conduct for Public Officials adopted on 11 May 2000 and the OECD Guidelines for Managing Conflict of Interest in the Public Service endorsed in the form of a Council Recommendation in June 2003.