The CONCORD working group on Enlargement, Pre-Accession and Neighbourhood (EPAN), which is convened by TRIALOG, has sent the European Commission its recommendations on the proposed Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum. This followed the discussions with the European Commission on the topic at the EPAN meeting in March, and responded directly to an online consultation that DG External Relations launched last month.
In the statement, the group answers the four questions that were set by the European Commission: how a Civil Society Forum would advance the goals of the Eastern Partnership; how participation in the Forum should be determined; how the Forum should be structured and the role the European Commission should play.
The EPAN group sees the Civil Society Forum as an opportunity for true cooperation between civil society in the six countries included in the Eastern Partnership (EaP) and civil society in the EU. It must be inclusive and representative of civil society in the EaP countries, and based on existing groupings and networks rather than being imposed from outside.
The group sees the Forum functioning with a light secretariat and annual event, but the main bulk of the work being done by members throughout the year in working groups on a range of issues.
The group sees the EC’s role as a facilitating one, with increased cooperation between Brussels, the EC delegations and civil society. Attention must also be given to resources, which will be needed to properly support the Forum and its activities.
The invitation to contribute an opinion on the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum can be found on the European Commission European Neighbourhood Policy website: http://ec.europa.eu/world/enp/docs/civil_society_forum_2009_en.pdf
The EPAN statement can be found on the TRIALOG website: http://www.trialog.or.at/images/doku/epan_eap_csf.pdf
For further information on the EPAN working group visit:
Information provided by Rebecca Steel, TRIALOG