EU and Civil Society

Civil society organisations – non-governmental groups such as trade unions, employers’ associations and other social groups – allow citizens to take an active part in setting the political agenda. For an aspiring EU member country, a vibrant civil society contributes to fulfilling the conditions for EU membership.

In some countries wanting to join the EU, these groups may not be as effective as necessary, or the conditions for them to be able to enter into dialogue with the public authorities may be lacking, or the legislation on their establishment and activities may need improvement. This means that citizens do not have sufficient influence on and ownership of the reforms leading to enlargement.
So the EU:

  • promotes citizen participation in social and political life in candidate countries and potential candidates
  • monitors the policies of candidate countries and potential candidates towards their civil society bodies
  • provides financial support from the IPA programmes, and especially the Civil Society Facility

Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) play a vital role in the reforms carried out in a candidate country for EU membership such as the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Their work can prove to be crucial in determining the pace and quality of the accession process, as well as in generating public support for accession.

The EU developed several programmes to support CSO’s:

  • Civil Society Facility
  • European Instrument for Human Rights and Democracy
  • Civil Society Dialogue and Consultations

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