Civil society dialogue

Civil society organisations play a vital role in the reforms carried out in candidates and potential candidates for EU membership. Their work can prove crucial in determining the pace and quality of the accession process, as well as generating public support for accession.

Responsibility for strengthening the role and influence of civil society in the enlargement countries lies primarily with the countries themselves. However, the European Commission is also willing to step up its own support for civil society development in these countries.

Besides a significant increase in financial assistance to civil society projects under the Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA) and the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR), the Commission intends to continue improving consultations with civil society representatives and work towards other measures to bolster civil society, for example by improving donor coordination and continuing work towards visa-free travel for citizens of the candidates and potential candidates.

During the conference "Civil Society Development in Southeast Europe: Building Europe Together" in Brussels on 17-18 April 2008, it was agreed that permanent dialogue between the Commission and CSOs from the enlargement countries should be established through regular meetings, whose format and periodicity is to be decided in future.

In addition to these meetings, it is envisaged to establish a virtual platform for Civil Society Organisations from the candidates and potential candidates and the EU, to enhance dialogue, exchange good practices, search for partners and eventually develop specific projects.

The EC Liaison Office to Kosovo engages in a regular dialogue with civil society organisations in Kosovo during the Progress Report drafting process and after. Each year, the EC Liaison Office invites Civil Society Organisations to provide input for the annual reporting exercise, and to discuss the findings of the report after its publication.

Prior to the Progress Report drafting, civil society organisations are invited to provide their input to the sectoral meetings of the Stabilisation and Association Dialogue.

The European Commission Liaison Office also engages with civil society organisations in the framework of the SAP Dialogue.