The CONCORD Working Group on Enlargement, Pre-Accession and Neighbourhood (EPAN WG), which is convened by TRIALOG, met on the 12th and 13th of November 2007 in Sinaia, Romania, to discuss the developments and activities since the last meeting in May and to agree on the next steps and the workplan 2008.
Starting with the subgroup on ENPI (European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument), Mirkka Matilla from the Finnish platform provided information on the Helsinki Seminar on Human Rights in the Mediterranean Region which was part of the Euro-Med Civil Forum. The role of FRONTEX (European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders) was in the focus of the seminar. Vince Caruana from the Maltese platform did a presentation about the situation of women in Arab countries and on the power transactions within the societies. It was agreed that the EPAN WG/ENPI subgroup will conduct two studies on the impact of the ENPI on one Mediterranean and one Eastern Europe neighbouring country. It was decided that these case studies will be on Egypt and the Ukraine and cover 2 or 3 specific fields of EU interventions.
Another EPAN activity (together with the Cotonou working group) will be to send the already drafted letter on multilingualism of EC programming to EU Commissioner Leonard Orban and other EU officials. The letter asks for all documents in public consultations etc. being available in the official languages of the partner countries.
The focus of the work of the IPA subgroup (Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance) will be on the EC budget review which will end in March 2008. The EC is currently holding consultations regarding its budget, based on the premise that Europe's policies and financing need to evolve to reflect citizen priorities and what Europe is best placed to do. EPAN is planning to participate in this debate on the future EU spending priorities and will focus in particular on the difficulties of Civil Society Organisations in the Balkans to access European funds that reflect their priorities.
Part of the EPAN meeting was focused on the transition experience of new member states (NMS) and on the relevance of civil society in the EU, in neighbouring and potential candidate countries. How is the third sector perceived and how can NGOs from NMS help the pre-accession countries in the transition they will face on many levels. The transition experience of NMS could be of great value to transition countries in the Balkans and the European neighbourhood. A questionnaire will be sent to NGO networks or coordination bodies in the transition countries, asking them which sectors would be of most interest for them to be investigated and reported.
Other topics discussed included the nature of development and the different perspectives of development based on the background and experience of the beholder. On these issues a TRIALOG-CONCORD conference will be held in Prague in 2008 (see Events, May 14-16) with the participation of civil society representatives and resource persons from all parts of the world.
The minutes of the recent EPAN meeting will become available at: http://www.trialog.or.at/start.asp?ID=107
The next EPAN meeting will take place on April 23-24, 2008 in Brussels.
For further information please contact TRIALOG policy officer, Rebecca Steel, at email@example.com (from December 10, 2007).
Information provided by Christine Bedoya, TRIALOG director, and Mirko Dautovic, TRIALOG intern