Enhancing democracy and fighting poverty – European Commission commits to further support civil society in partner countries
In a new Communication on "The roots of democracy and sustainable development: Europe's engagement with Civil Society in external relations", the European Commission (EC) announces it will engage further and will provide more support to Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in its partner countries. The EC recognises that CSOs can be efficient independent development actors. It commits to promote a more conducive environment for civil society organisations, so that they can fully play their role in the delivery of social services, transparency and good governance advocacy
EU Commissioner for Development Andris Piebalgs commented: "The Arab Spring, as well as other recent events over the world, has confirmed that civil society organisations can be powerful actors of change. The EU has drawn lessons from this, and we commit to help develop a dynamic, pluralistic and competent civil society in our partner countries. The renewed EU response aims to empower local CSOs in their actions for democratic governance and equitable development".
Štefan Füle, EU Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy, added: "Civil society organisations have a crucial role to play in the transformation process and in holding governments to account. Working with civil CSOs and supporting them is at the centre of our new neighbourhood policy. We have had a civil society facility in the enlargement countries for many years and have established a neighbourhood civil society facility last year. As a testimony of our commitment, the EC intends to allocate more than €65 million to the neighbourhood civil society in 2011-2013. Also, we are keen to consult CSOs more systematically on our policy initiatives and cooperation programmes".
The EC's new proposals put an emphasis on working with governments and public institutions to ensure the creation and promotion of a more conducive, fair and democratic environment for civil society to operate in; enabling CSOs to help more of the world's poorest and vulnerable people as a result. The EC also proposes to launch "EU Roadmaps" for stronger engagement with Civil Society Organisations – a new way of working for EU Delegations, allowing for more structured and strategic cooperation with Civil Society in each of the countries the EU works with.
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