BCSDN’s input on the IPA III Multi-Country Action Document 2024, submitted to TACSO on 11 July as part of the open consultations, emphasizes the significance of meaningfully consulting CSOs in these processes. We bring attention to the limitations of the current consultation process and urge EU for inclusive, structured, and effective collaboration, and the need for stronger support towards a more enabling civil society environment.
Limited Participation, Information Access, and Narrow Feedback
The consultation process excludes crucial CSO voices by seriously limiting the opportunity for participation. Restricted distribution of required consultation documents and budget information hinders CSOs’ feedback, while the short five-day feedback window impedes meaningful dialogue. The EU must uphold minimum standards for public consultations, emphasized in their Guidelines for Support to Civil Society, in line with BCSDN’s longstanding advocacy efforts EU to advance the policy dialogue with civil society.
More to Be Done for Strengthening CS Involvement in Decision- and Policy-Making
The Action document needs to be better aligned with the Guidelines’ objective focused on strengthened cooperation and partnership between CSOs and public institutions. Instead of focusing only on supporting improved engagement opportunities, it should be supporting actions aimed to promote systematic and meaningful involvement of CSOs.
А Need for а Broadened Approach to Financial Viability
The Action document focusses only on funding diversification and CSO engagement in philanthropy, corporate social responsibility, social entrepreneurship and does not reflect the Guidelines’ objective on fair and transparent public financial and non-financial support to CSOs. The need for more effective, transparent and accountable public funding for CSOs and more stimulating fiscal and tax treatment is evidenced in our Regional Monitoring Matrix report.
Direct Support for Effective Funds Utilization without Undermining Local Capacities
Directly supporting local CSOs is crucial for addressing challenges in IPA countries and improving transparency and accountability. Avoiding intermediaries like international consultancies and UN agencies would further strengthen capacities and ownership of local CSOs. Such direct contracts or a continuation of the Technical Assistance, as foreseen in the Action document, should only be considered upon positive recommendations of external evaluation that takes into account the opinion of the final beneficiaries.
Read the full opinion HERE.