ENNA participated to the debate “Norms over Forms: Empowering Civil Society in the Western Balkans and Turkey”, organized by the Balkan Civil Society Development Network (BCSDN). The event was hosted by Ms. Ulrike Lunacek, Vice-President of the European Parliament (The Greens/EFA) at the European Parliament on 4th June 2015.

This debate, on one hand, gathered together CSO representatives from Western Balkans and Turkey to illustrate the main challenges for the civil society sector in these countries; on the other hand, the aim was to engage a discussion with MEPs and other EU stakeholders on how the EU accession process can promote a stronger and more empowered civil society.

The outcomes of the debate consisted in an open evaluation of the level of cooperation between the third sector and the national governments in terms of respect of human and civil rights (especially freedom of association, assembly and expression), financial support and transparency, and capacity of influence the political and decision-making sector. These trends are measured by the Monitoring Matrix tool that uses these data to carry out important advocacy activities: indeed such data can be used to develop soft policies for helping the access of the target countries. In particular, the Monitoring Matrix has produced the Regional Report for 2014, based on extensive monitoring conducted by BCSDN’s member organizations. As it was pointed out during the debate by the Executive Director of the Kosovar Civil Society Foundation/BCSDN Board Chair, Venera Hajrullahu <<‘Transparency’ and ‘Participation’ are the key words for good governance>>, especially for a full participation of CSOs in the EU accession process. European Union can influence positively the development of the third sector in Western Balkans and Turkey, but a closer and constant dialogue between European Institutions and CSOs from these countries is required. It worth to mention the final remark of Ms. Ulrike Lunacek regarding the difficulties that the majority of the CSOs face in their countries by operating in a very hostile environment: <> and in this regard is important to change the perception that the governments have toward CSOs. <> underlined Ms. Lunacek, thus, the contribution of CSO sector in the socio-political national sphere is crucial for the fulfilment of the accession requirements.

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“Balkan Civil Society Acquis – Strengthening the Advocacy and Monitoring Potential and Capacities of CSOs?” is being implemented by BCSDN in partnership with 13 members, European Network of National Civil Society Associations (ENNA) and European Centre for Non-for-profit Law (ECNL).