How and why civil society actors should be involved in programming and monitoring of ENPI cycle
Possibilities of civic involvement in Country Strategy Papers’, in National Indicative Programmes’, Regional Indicative Programmes’ and Annual Action Plans’ preparation processes:
The strategy papers are the principal reference framework for the ENPI program and set out the priority areas for action, while NIP sets out an indicative budget for a three or four year period.
The preparation of Country Strategy Papers is guided by a Common framework that describes the essential decision-making process: According to the guide, phase one of CSP preparation should include the analysis and assessment of national development strategy, as well as consultations with government, civil society, Member states and other donors. Only after discussions with stakeholders in partner countries, is the SP presented to representatives of all EU Member States, who have to give their consent before the Commission can make a final decision.
The nearly identical decision-making process applies to NIP preparation that is also prepared by DG RELEX in consultation with other DGs, respective governments and presented to the ENPI Management Committee (member states and commission). However, the NIPs and RIPs clearly specify the limited priorities, together with the objectives and results to be achieved. They also specify the tools and budgetary allocations for each priority. In case of the country’s IPs it should be signed by DG RELEX Director-General and the respective representative of the country.
The preparation of Annual Action Plans also considers involvement of country stakeholders in the identification phase, while defining the specific priorities in CSP and NIP for ground actions and identifying the projects to be financed. However, involvement in the real project elaboration, implementation and monitoring process is quite limited. Each project under the AAP receives a specific action fiche that describes almost all related aspects of the projects, including the performance criteria, the supervisory committee obligations, monitoring and etc. It is essential that CSOs largely participate not only in the preparation of programming documents in order to ensure that priorities and the response strategy are adequate, but also in the development of the particular programs/projects including the defining of performance criteria, participating in supervisory and monitoring committees, etc.
Usually, government advocates for priorities for which it has already prepared and approved sectoral strategy or a national program. However, those strategies may not be fitting the sustainable development paths for particular sectors and/or may not be taking into account some marginalised groups, or may not address the needed real changes.
Therefore, the CSO representatives’ involvement is essential for ensuring the effective dialogue between public and private sectors, to not only generate consensus on priorities, but also to identify who is best qualified to deliver the services.
There are a number of reasons that make NGO involvement in the monitoring of the ENPI implementation important. Among other things, NGOs can:
- Promote increased transparency and the prevention of corruption and fraud;
- Prevent the lobbying of cognitive interests on the part of the private sector;
- Facilitate the elaboration of high-quality projects and absorption of funds;
- Promote the improvement of limited administrative potential;
- Facilitate the involvement of independent experts in designing and implementing the project in order to improve social integration, gender equality, environmental protection, and quality of life;
- Ensure effective use of European taxpayers' money;
- Promote the culture of inclusive democracy;
- Increase the sense of ownership among the public in order to legitimise projects as well as the European Neighbourhood Policy;
- Respond to increased demand for assistance on the part of the EU.
The 2009 report by the European Parliament calls on the European Commission, together with the partner governments "to further develop mechanisms for consultation with civil society and local authorities, in order to better involve them in the design and monitoring of the implementation of the ENPI and of the national reform programs; asks the Commission to speed up publication of the AAPs on its website and to persuade the partner governments to make their national programming documents regularly available to the public".
Although the implementation of the ENPI implies participation of the public at large and the EU encourages it in many programmes, experience has shown that two years after the start of the action plan, a significant part of the public is not sufficiently informed on the current ENPI initiatives.
The role of the European Commission and Member States in the civil society dimension is primarily as facilitators, while public authorities do not always set an effective agenda of consultations and involvement with active civil society entities in their countries. The Commission has prepared specific handbooks and sample templates for their national counterparts on how to include civil society in the policy consultation framework.
However, often the governments of Eastern Neighbourhood area do not follow those guidelines. Meanwhile, access to information and potential opportunities for CSO representatives’ involvement in the decision-making processes remains dependant on private initiatives. In most of the cases, the relations between non-governmental organisations and governmental structures have not been institutionalised. The relations are not regulated by law and ultimately continue to depend on personal relations. Cooperation based on such personal relations is not sustainable and needs to be addressed fully.
Different CSOs in the neighbourhood, as well as within EU, try to ensure public participation in the ENPI programming process, and in the case of the mid-term 2009 review it has already brought about some limited success stories, yet success nonetheless.