The CONCORD working group on Enlargement, Pre-Accession and Neighbourhood (EPAN), which is convened by TRIALOG, met in the middle of March at one of its six-monthly meetings. The group met in Brussels, which allowed it easy access to the European institutions and the offices of the CONCORD secretariat.
Around 25 people from all over Europe, including candidate country Croatia, met to discuss the work they wished to focus on in the next few months.
The group met Egidio Canciani from DG External Relations, who is the deputy head of unit responsible for the general coordination of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP). He explained the current process surrounding the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI) mid term review; and gave more details about the Eastern Partnership (EaP) proposal, and specifically the Civil Society Forum that has been foreseen. The EPAN working group will spend the next month preparing a contribution to the ENPI mid term review, and a position paper regarding the EaP Civil Society Forum.
The second issue that provoked heated debate, also related to Europe’s policy regarding its neighbours, was the recent violence in Gaza. This conflict has forced the Union for the Mediterranean to grind to a halt, and the group discussed the best way for the EU to deal with this situation. MEP Luisa Morgantini, and independent press representative Marisa Consolata spoke about their experiences during that last bout of violence, and their long-standing work in the country. The EPAN working group will also be preparing a position paper on what the EU should do.
The group also had the opportunity to find out about other areas of CONCORD’s work with an informal lunch meeting with members of the CONCORD and DEEEP secretariats. Ester Asin, Policy Coordinator at CONCORD talked the group through the confederation’s policy priorities for the next three years, and the actions that are being planned around the time of the European elections, including the ‘ten days for development’.
Due to a packed agenda and limited time, the group this time focused much more heavily on neighbourhood issues than pre-accession work. A conference call will be held in the first week of April to take forward the group’s work on pre-accession.
DG RELEX consultation regarding the Eastern Partnership’s Civil Society Forum http://ec.europa.eu/world/enp/docs/civil_society_forum_2009_en.pdf
CONCORD election manifesto http://www.concordeurope.org/Files/media/internetdocumentsENG/4_Publications/3_CONCORDs_positions_and_studies/CONCORD-EU-MANIFESTO-FINAL.pdf
Information provided by Rebecca Steel, TRIALOG