Thursday, 25 September 2014

EU13 CSOs’ Participation in EC Funded Projects in the Last Decade – Where do We Stand?

This summer at TRIALOG we looked systematically at the level of participation of EU13 civil society organisations (CSOs) in different European Commission (EC) funding schemes, namely in Development Education and Awareness Raising (DEAR) projects, in development cooperation projects in the Global South and projects in the area of humanitarian action.

Three papers were published:
A Decade of EU13 Civil Society Participation in European Development Education and Awareness Raising Projects, June 2014
A Decade of EU13 Civil Society Participation in European Development Cooperation Projects, July 2014
A Decade of EU13 Civil Society Participation in European Humanitarian Actions, August 2014

To mark the 10 year anniversary of EU enlargement in 2014, we looked back at the last decade. The studies were put together on the basis of publicly available information from EC websites and databases, and supported by a questionnaire sent to EU13 CSOs.

The findings revealed that EU13 CSOs have been quite successful in securing EC DEAR grants while the implementation of EC development cooperation and humanitarian action projects has been extremely limited. EU13 CSOs lead the implementation of 14.1% of the budget of EC DEAR grants between 2004 and 2013 – the EC did not meet its aim to allocate 20% of the budget for DEAR grants to EU10/12 CSOs, but came close to achieving the aim in some years. However, 88% of the DEAR projects included at least one partner from EU13 which shows a large extent of partnerships between EU13 and EU15 CSOs.

Analysis of some of the most important EC development cooperation programmes (e.g. Investing in People, the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights and others) revealed extremely limited participation of EU13 CSOs in these project schemes. Out of the 3921 grants analysed, only 30 were awarded to EU13 CSOs, representing 0.75% of the grants analysed.

Within the last ten years, only 42 European humanitarian projects were implemented by five different EU13 CSOs coming from four different countries – the Czech Republic, Poland, Slovenia and Slovakia. During 2004-2012, EU13 CSOs managed to obtain only 0.41% of the total funding for humanitarian operations awarded by DG ECHO to CSOs. 99.59% of the funding was awarded to CSOs from the EU15 and European Economic Area countries.

Among the EU13 group there were considerable differences noticed in terms of implementation of EC funded grants. Czech CSOs implemented the most projects in all three categories. Hungarian CSOs also implemented a considerable amount of DEAR and development cooperation projects as did the Polish CSOs with DEAR and humanitarian action projects.

The studies identified numerous issues that pose difficulties for EU13 development CSOs to participate to a larger extent in the EU-funded project schemes. They include the big sizes of the project grants and inability to raise co-financing for the projects; lack of experience in managing such large scale projects; limited “field experience” in the Global South and ability to identify partners for the projects.

Some recommendations from the study to address the current situation are for the EC to encourage and open up opportunities for EU13 CSOs to partner up with EU15 and non-European CSOs for implementing joint development cooperation projects on the ground or to implement humanitarian action e.g. through junior partner schemes; Member States to ensure predictable and reliable co-financing schemes for EC projects for national CSOs; Different stakeholders, including from civil society, European institutions, national governments to have a multi-stakeholder dialogue on the role and participation of EU13 CSOs in implementing European development cooperation and humanitarian assistance projects with the view to find solutions for the current extremely low involvement of EU13 CSOs in these programmes.

Download the Studies from our website.

Information provided by Mirjam Sutrop, TRIALOG

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