Supporting societies in democratic transition
Today, the European Commission and High Representative of the Union for Foreign and Security Policy/Vice-President Catherine Ashton have made proposals on improving the EU's support to countries undergoing major political, social and economic reforms – so-called transition countries.
This comes at a time of historical transformational changes in the Southern Neighbourhood region following the popular uprisings witnessed over the past year and a half in the Arab world and beyond. Swift, tailor-made, comprehensive and driven by the reform countries themselves, EU support uses the full range of EU policies and instruments and the rich experience it has with such transitions.
EU Commissioner for Development Andris Piebalgs commented: “The fight against poverty can only be won if people feel that their human rights are respected and that they are empowered to build their own future. Only stable and secure countries with organised civil societies can provide the conditions for people to grow, find jobs, and educate their children. Transition to democracy can be 'make or break' for states and societies.”
The proposals in the joint Communication aim at helping partner countries and their citizens achieve accountable government, political freedom, economic inclusiveness, decent jobs, social justice and equity. This approach comprises incentives (such as more support for greater reform efforts an approach embedded in new programmes such as our "Support for Partnership, Reform and Inclusive Growth", SPRING, for the Southern Neighbourhood countries) as well as constraints (such as sanctions) to foster reforms. It emphasises the important role of civil society in reform processes and political dialogue, as well as at the core of one of our newly created instruments for the Neighbourhood countries, the Civil Society Facility (CSF). Among other things it also calls for better cooperation with EU Member States and international and regional organisations.