Invitation to submit expressions of interest to participate in the 7th annual meeting of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum (Kyiv, Ukraine, 20-21 November 2015)
The Steering Committee of the EaP Civil Society Forum is now inviting all interested parties to submit expressions of interest to participate in the 7th annual 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 annual meeting to take place on 20-21 November in Kyiv, Ukraine.
The annual meeting of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum (EaP CSF) is the key event conducted on an annual basis since 2009. It is the highest decision making-body in the EaP CSF which also serves as a platform for a debate on the achievements of the Forum and the EaP in general and on civil society contribution to the reform process in the region. Every year the event brings together over 200 civil society representatives from the EaP region as well as the EU and other stakeholders.
WHO CAN APPLY?
The Civil Society Forum is open to a wide range of CSOs: NGOs, think-tanks, non-profit foundations, trade unions, employers’ organisations, professional associations, chambers of commerce, business associations, national and international CSOs/networks and other relevant civil society actors from EaP region, but also from EU Member States and international organisations.
Only one person per organisation can apply.
The civil society organisations dealing with women’s issues/rights are encouraged to apply. The organisations are encouraged to delegate women as their representatives to the annual meeting of the Forum.
Participants will be selected on the basis of the following criteria:
- Eligibility– applicants must be non-governmental, non-partisan (not institutionally affiliated to a political party) organisations that respect democratic values. They should also be bona fide, independent organisations in their own right.
- Diversity of spheres of activity– to ensure the involvement of all the major components of civil society and adequate representation for each of the thematic working groupsand subgroups.
- Involvement– applicants should be involved in activities relevant to Eastern Partnership priorities.
- Rotation– whereby eligible, independent CSOs that have not participated in previous Forum annual events are given priority over those that have participated in previous Forum meetings.
- Involvement –we invite applicants who were actively involved in the activities of previous Civil Society Fora, its national platforms and working groups, as well as those who are ready to be actively contributing to the work of the CSF in 2015/2016.
The organisations that can fund their own participation or willing to attend the annual assembly in the capacity of an observer (without voting rights) also need to apply.
The CSF Steering Committee in consultation with the European External Action Service/European Commission will carry out the selection of the participants for the 7th annual meeting of the EaP CSF. The selection procedure will be twofold. To learn more about the selection procedure please follow the link.
The deadline for the applications is 12:00 (midnight) (CET), 25 May 2015.
If you have any questions concerning the call for applications, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The European Union (EU) will be able to fund the travel and hotel accommodation during the Forum meeting for the selected CSOs only. It will be possible for the EU to cover the travel and accommodation of up to 170 CSO representatives – a maximum of 120 from the EaP countries and a maximum of 50 from EU member states. It should be noted that the European Commission does not cover costs of the participation of observers in the Forum’s activities.
Working Groups: WG1 Democracy, Human Rights, Good Governance & Stability, WG2 Economic Integration and Convergence with EU legislation WG3 Environment, Climate Change & Energy Security, WG4 Contacts between People, WG5 Social & Labour Policies and Social Dialogue
 WG1 subgroups: 1. Public administration sub-group 2. Visa facilitation sub-group 3. Election monitoring reform sub-group 4. Human rights sub-group 5. Fight against corruption sub-group 6. Media freedom sub-group 7. Judiciary reform sub-group 8. Regional cooperation and confidence building; WG2 subgroups: 1. Environment & Climate Change 2. SME Policy 3. Agriculture & Rural Development 4. Transport 5. Trade and Trade Regulated Cooperation linked to DCFTAs 6. Territorial, regional and cross border cooperation 7. Integration of ICT infrastructure in the EU; WG3 subgroups: 1. Environmental Governance 2. Energy Security 3. Climate change 4. Biodiversity 5. Sustainable Development; WG4 subgroups: 1. Youth 2. Culture 3. Education 4. Contacts between seniors.
Highlights of the panel event “The Eastern Partnership in 2014: turning point for some, insecurity for all” in Brussels
On 25th of March 2015, an EaP CSF panel event The Eastern Partnership in 2014: turning point for some, insecurity for all took place in the premises of the Open Society Foundation in Brussels. The focal point of the event was the presentation of the new edition of The European Integration Index for Eastern Partnership Countries 2014 (EaP Index 2014). The 2014 Index generates recommendations to guide countries along the reform process and serves as a monitoring tool for both civil society and policymakers in the partner countries and the EU.
The highly attended event kicked off with the welcoming speech by Natalia Yerashevich, the Director of the Secretariat of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum.
In his introduction Arnoldas Pranckevicius, the Adviser to the President of the European Parliament, stressed the importance of Eastern Partnership policy to the EU mentioning that its failure will be appreciated by the forces that want to undermine the EU and NATO. He urged the audience “to get serious about the strategic thinking”, referring to the weakness of EU’s strategic patience and a short span of attention of the media and policy-makers. Mr. Pranckevicius suggested that EU must become less procedural, less predictable, more visionary and merry its core interests with core values. “EU is finally waking up to the fact that in order to protect the paradise of democracy and rules, it needs concentration, leadership and political wisdom” said Schulz’s adviser for foreign affairs.
Jeff Lovitt, Director of Policy Association of Open Society (PASOS) and editorin-chief of the publication, shared the key results of this year’s Index publication:Moldova remains the top reformer in region, even though Georgia, the second best performer, overall showed the biggest advances in the 2014 Index. He also mentioned that the countries need to work themselves on strengthening their institutions and to secure themselves.
He also shared his concerns on the Eastern Partnership being the right tool to address the security and media issues. According to Mr. Lovitt, Twinning programmes with EU and NATO members can be the solutions when it comes to the former, while foreign media coverage of the Ukrainian crisis can address the latter.
Boris Navasardyan, the President of the Yerevan Press Club from Armenia commented on the challenges related to the media freedom and oligarchic system. He said there is a presence of ambiguity in Armenia in terms of its further relations with the EU. Even though there are examples of the government acceptance of the positions of the civil society, negative trends can be found in the media sphere and political processes that led to the destruction of the major opposition party. He also addressed the problem of the current ‘legislative standstill’, which is mainly due to the opposition that blocks all the draft laws.
Dr. Leila Alieva, academic visitor to University of Oxford and the President of the Center for National and International Studies in Baku, stressed the peculiarities of the relations between the EU and Azerbaijan. EU has clear strategic interests concerning energy from Azerbaijan that remains the core of these relations. At the same time civil society organisations are struggling to operate. Even though there are numerous human rights violations to which the EU is closing its eyes. Human rights standards can be guaranteed through conditionality on energy deals with the EU.
Tamar Pataria, the Georgian expert from Caucasus Institute for Peace, Democracy and Development, while presenting the recent developments in Georgia and its best Approximation score in Index, stressed that in the view of a successive political dialogue and positive reforms, the economic growth is important for the country and it still remains as a target in EU and Georgia relations. However, Ms Pataria also commented that previously being favourable, business climate recently got worse in Georgia. This has to do with the strong need for security to be ensured.
The moderator of the discussion, Jeff Lovitt also added that Georgia scored best when it comes to the communication on European integration as it developed the communication strategy in this regard.
In the 2014 Index, Moldova appears to be the front-runner, however as agreed by the experts it is partly because Index research period covered only until July 2014. The last developments; especially in the area of elections, are therefore not taken into account in this year’s publication and will be present in next years evaluation.
As Leonid Litra, the associated expert of Institute for Development and Social Initiatives (IDIS) “Viitorul” shared with the audience that one of the problems Moldova is facing in its European integration path is the oligarchy in the country. Unlike in other EaP countries, the oligarchs in Moldova are usually pro-EU as they see economic opportunities in having stronger ties with the EU. However, they block any reform process as soon as their personal interests are threatened. The three biggest challenges for Moldova are the judiciary reform, fight against corruption, and the unfavorable -business climate.
Leonid Litra made a strong call for the EU not to be indulgent regarding Moldova and other EaP countries’ progress towards European integration. “Reforms should be undertook and well implemented and the EU should be very critical in its assessments” said the expert. Even though Moldova is a leader in EaP Index, he sees less progress in the EU and Moldova relations lately– new government (as it embraces communists) is less devoted to the European integration.
Iryna Solonenko, the initial creator and one of the experts in this year’s EAP Index, revealed that despite the current challenges that Ukraine had to face last year, optimistic trends are visible in Ukraine. The civil society is presently very active in the country. 77% of the population is participating in the funding of civil society activities. Furthermore, many volunteer movements have emerged, in particular toassist to IDPs.
“Pressure form the EU is actually very useful” thinks Ms Solonenko. The country needs pressure to be encouraged to adopt and implement reforms, and there should be even more pressure coming from the EU for reforms: “We need and we want pressure”.
One of the challenges Ukraine is facing is the remaining legacy of Yanukovych. Many of his people are still in place in public institutions, which impedes reform processes. It is a problem of particular importance to the judiciary system. There is no institution that has the competence to replace judges who took office under Yanukovych. As a consequence the judiciary system is not independent and its reform is hampered.
In the closing remarks Iskra Kirova, the policy analyst of Open Society European Policy Institute, hosting the event, paid attention that EaP countries are facing both external and internal challenges that certainly need the correct attention from the EU.
The full text of the EaP Index publication can be found here.
The supporting methodologic/research data for EaP Index can be found here.