Information provided by Annika Kool, TRIALOG Policy Officer
On May 15-16, the CONCORD working group on Enlargement, Pre-Accession and Neighbourhood (EPAN), formerly known as WG Enlargement, gathered in Brussels for the first time after its restructuring. The meeting attracted about 20 participants, mostly from new member states’ NGDO platforms but also from several networks.
The first day started with a short session on Policy Coherence for Development (PCD) in which participants heard of relevant cooperation opportunities within the framework of the EU Coherence Programme and Vince Caruana (Maltese platform) presented his recent paper on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and PCD within the EU. The rest of the day focused on the EU Neighbourhood Policy: Florent Sebban (Eurostep) and Colombe de Mercey (Aprodev) highlighted problematic matters related to the framework covering the EU neighbourhood countries, participants exchanged information on what NGOs in their respective countries (or through their networks) are doing regarding the EU Neighbourhood and finally, Vince Caruana and Mateja Krasevec (Humanitas, Slovenia) draw attention to the Southern Mediterranean by sharing issues arising from the ongoing Maltese-Slovenian-Cypriot project supported by the Presidency Fund (http://www.presidencyfund.org/).
The second day was kicked off by a session on the Western-Balkans where Marjan Huc (Slovenian platform) gave a thorough presentation on the current challenges and needs of the Western Balkans based on the conference held in February in Ljubljana (see also TRIALOG Information Service 02/04/2007, article 4.2.). Subsequently, Mara Simane (Latvian platform) and Valentin Burada (Romanian platform) provided food for thought for reflecting on the working group’s future activities in the area of transitions, enlargement and lessons learned. Additionally, the WG members gave feedback on the Czech EU Presidency project plans and were introduced to EuroNGOs.
Most importantly, the meeting spared time for shaping the working group’s next steps. Thus, the “ENPI sub-group” decided to direct its energy on ensuring the EC aid is being distributed in a participatory manner and the “Pre-accession sub-group” will in the forthcoming months centre on building contacts with relevant actors in Western Balkans and sharing with them new member states’ NGOs’ experience regarding relations with the governments, particularly with the MFAs. During the next meeting, the group will devote more time on deciding upon activities regarding EPAN’s “enlargement and lessons learned” objectives.
Last but not least, the group elected a new chair: the "old-new" chair is Vince Caruana.
The presentations held at the EPAN meeting are available at: http://www.trialog.or.at/start.asp?m=4,32,232 The Minutes of the meeting will become available at the same link.