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New Possibilities of Financial Support to Civil Society within the IPA Programme

In its Enlargement Strategy 2007-2008, the European Commission accentuated the need of enhancing support to civil society development and announced the setting up of new financing facility aiming at improvement of civil society development and dialogue in the countries included in the Process of Stabilization and Accession.
 
The new facility of the European Union’s financial support to civil society activities in the Western Balkans and Turkey will approximately amount to 130 million Euros over the period 2008-2010. The programme of financing comprises three fields of activities:
 
  • Support for local civil society initiatives and capacity building, reinforcing the role of civil society in the candidate and potential candidate countries
  • People-to-People Dialogue programmes aimed at familiarizing journalists, young politicians, trade union leaders, teachers etc. with EU policies and institutions
  • Support for building partnerships and developing networks between civil society organizations in the enlargement countries and the EU to promote transfer of knowledge and experience
The new initiative was presented during the conference “Civil Society Development in Southeast Europe: Building Europe Together” which was organized by the Directorate-General for Enlargement on 17 and 18 April. The conference aimed at providing the civil society organizations from the EU and the candidate and potential candidate countries a platform for networking, exchanging good practices, building partnerships as well as disseminating information on financial support to civil society under the IPA (Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance) and other EU programmes. One of the elements of the new initiative refers to civil society dialogue: programme People to People (P2P), consisting of group visits will be managed by the Directorate-General for Enlargement in the framework of the TAIEX instrument.
 
More about People to People – P2P Programme
 
Purpose of People to People – P2P Programme
 
The objective of this programme is to strengthen the role of the civil society organisations in participative democracy, by stimulating an active civil society at regional, national and European levels. It will offer to individuals and organisations the possibility to visit the EU institutions, as well as relevant EU umbrella non governmental organisations, and other European, national and international organisations, in order to familiarize themselves with the vast set of EU policies, programmes, initiatives and best practices. The P2P programme will also facilitate a better mutual understanding, especially in the perspective of future enlargement and partnership building.
 
Target groups
 
The Programme will adress among others: NGOs dealing with acquis related subjects, such as equal opportunities, non discrimination, children rights, youth, etc.; cultural foundations, or organizations active in the cultural, artistic, educational and linguistic fields; teachers and academics from all levels of educational cycle; human rights groups, including minorities defence groups, human rights activists, legal aid offices, etc; representatives of municipalities/regions; representatives of the agricultural society (farmers, associations groups dealing with land exploitation and preservation, etc); representatives of religious interest groups; consumer protection associations, health related civil society organizations, etc.
 
Activities that will be considered under P2P Programme
 
The Programme will mainly entail the organisation of group visitssuch as:
  1. Visits for groups of different participants from the same beneficiary country and active in one particular sector, with the objective of stimulating and strengthening dialogue and cooperation among interested parties in a given country (e.g. universities representatives, social partners, vocational training organisations, youth organisations – for a visit on employment of young people).
  2. Multi-country group visits, where 3-5 representatives per beneficiary country would be invited. In this case the participants would have the same professional background but coming from a different country. These visits will build up the regional and European dialogue and enhance cross border networks.
  3. "Package assistance" schemes, in which the study visits will be preceded by a general training session on EU policies in the participants home countries. These training sessions could also be followed by a "feedback" seminar (in the country of origin of the participants) to be attended by a high number of participants, in order to disseminate the knowledge acquired during the study visits.
Selection procedure
 
a. Selection of topics
The topics under P2P will be defined by the Directorate General for Enlargement, in accordance with the political, legislative or social priorities established in relation to the targeted region and countries.
 
b. Selection of participants
The selection of participants for the visits will be conducted by DG Enlargement with the assistance of the European Commission Delegations in the beneficiary countries. Other EU institutions, such as the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), the Committee of the Regions (CoR), the European Parliament and other non-governmental organisations (NGOs), other international organisations (ILO, Council of Europe etc.), may be involved in the procedure too, on a case by case basis.
 
The organization of the programme
 
Once the topics, target group and the programme for a visit have been established, the Institution Building Unit of DG Enlargement will deal with all the organisational, logistical and financial aspects of the visits.
 
Timing and budgetary resources
 
The pilot phase of the programme to cover approximately 200 people will start in June 2008 and it will run until the end of the year. The pilot phase will be reviewed and the programme adjusted if required in order that the P2P programme could become fully operational as of 2009 with a budget currently estimated at € 2 million over a 2- year period.
 
Further information regarding the P2P Programme may be acquired at: elarg-p2p@ec.europa.eu or on the website website: http://taiex.ec.europa.eu/P2P-Programme. More information on the conference Civil Society Development in Southeast Europe: Building Europe Together” may be acquired here.
 
 
 
 
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