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Civil society & local authorities

Civil society and the broader set of non-state actors  (NSAs) and Local Authorities (LA) are privileged partners of the EU. Support from the EU for these actors encourages them to work towards better governance and more participatory development, increasingly involving citizens through their specific, often complementary, approaches. To facilitate its relationship with civil society and local authorities, the EC has established a space for dialogue  and  tools  tailored to their specific requirements.

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  3rd assizes of decentralised cooperation

On 9 and 10 April, Unit B2 and the Committee of the Regions are co-hosting the "3rd assizes of decentralised cooperation." Involving the European institutions, Member States and local and regional authorities, the event aims to promote a regular dialogue between local authorities and EU institutions on development policy, and particularly on decentralised cooperation. The assizes, which started in 2009, will bring together several hundred participants from the EU, but also many representatives from local authorities of partner countries and their associations (ALA).

You are of course welcome to participate.

  The European Commission outlines new proposals on how to better engage with civil society

The European Commission has adopted a new Communication on how to work more effectively with civil society organisations (CSOs) in developing, Neighbourhood and partner countries. The proposals include guidelines on working with governments and public institutions to ensure the creation of a more conducive, fair and democratic environment for civil society groups to operate in; enabling them to help more of the world's poorest and vulnerable people as a result.

  The launch of CiSocH

The EC has launched an online tool to facilitate access to existing information on and for civil society in development cooperation: CiSocH (Civil Society Helpdesk). With a powerful search tool, CISOCH offers a one-stop-shop for all your questions on cooperation between EuropeAid and civil society - making procedures, vocabulary, methods of work, etc. easier to understand.


Financial support

TheCommission provides NSA-LA with financial support, of which the objectives are defined in geographic instruments , thematic programmes and instruments .

For the period 2007-2013, the EU’s support to NSAs and local authorities is financed through two types of instruments:

  • On the one hand, geographic programmes  that are articulated around development priorities defined for a specific country or region. They form the core of EU cooperation. These encompass the European Development Fund (in the African, Caribbean and Pacific countries), the Development Co-operation Instrument (in Latin America, Asia and South Africa), and the European Neighbourhoud & Partnership Instrument (in the neighbouring regions),
  • On the other hand, the European Commission foresees thematic programmes. The thematic programmes are cross-cutting programmes that address a particular issue (eg, human rights and democracy, environment, civil society, asylum and migration, food security). Unlike geographic programsme, they do not require the consent of governments and other authorities of the partner country. These actions are subsidiary and complementary to those undertaken by geographic programmes. A specific Non State Actors and Local Authorities thematic programme is devoted to the support of NSAs and Local Authorities. NSAs are also supported by other thematic instruments and programmes, in particular the EIDHR.
  • Civil society and local authorities are the prime beneficiaries of these tools and programmes, to which they are asked to participate by means of calls for proposals. Throughout the year, more than 300 calls for proposals are published by both the headquarters and the delegations of the EU based on geographic and thematic programmes available for each country. We recommend you regularly visit the publication site to identify calls that would meet your context: New calls for proposals.

Background information

For more specific information, visit the pages dedicated to civil society and local authorities.

The EU promotes cooperation between NSAs and local authorities, as their efforts are often complementary (multi-actor partnerships). Moreover, support to civil society is increasingly mentioned in partnership and cooperation agreements with third countries.

Last update: 14/01/2014 | Top