Lessons learned – Midterm review results in Georgia
Although Georgian civil society is to a certain extent well-organised and has certain experiences in the design of the ENP Action Plan and monitoring of its implementation, Georgian NGOs have not yet had the opportunity to become actively involved in the ENPI, with the exception of a case whereby several Georgian NGOs – at the initiative of European NGOs - participated in the midterm review process of the ENPI programming documents.
The study (doc) that aimed to identify the level of involvement in and awareness of the civil sector of the ENPI and the implementation in Georgia of the programmes funded through the ENPI instrument was conducted among leading Georgian NGOs in July 2009. All interviewed NGOs (up to 10) were actively involved in monitoring the implementation of the EU-Georgia Action Plan in 2007-2009 and had prepared annual reports on the implementation of the plan to be submitted to the European Commission.
Most NGOs interviewed said that they had not been involved in identifying ENPI priorities for 2007-2010 and that they only familiarised themselves with the identified priorities without having participated in the preceding stage. They did not participate in the design of the ENPI annual programmes for 2007, 2008, nor for 2009. In general, they have very limited opportunities to make their own opinion known on the design and implementation of actions within the ENPI framework. Four of the interviewed organisations said that they get the opportunity to expand their knowledge on the issue mainly at face-to-face meetings with representatives of the European Commission and government.
Although some interviewed NGOs constantly monitor budget funds, the EU's sectoral budget support has remained beyond their attention. This is first and foremost due to the fact that they are not informed about the EU's funding plans, their implementation, and various budget lines.
Therefore, in July 2008, the First ENPI NGO meeting was organised, aiming to raise NGO capacity in the process of design and interim review on the one hand, and on the other to identify the priorities, which civil society deems necessary for the successful implementation of the neighbourhood policy. Later, since the review started, the EC delegation and EC missions visited Georgia and arranged a number of meetings with leading NGOs and received feedback via email from all CSOs during one month, based on a published initial note. A number of recommendations regarding the defining of priorities have been submitted to EC missions.
It is also noteworthy that quite a number of issues raised at the meeting in February 2009 became part of the initial blueprint. Although NIP priorities for 2010-2013 do not change, the European Commission has become aware of the need for more deeply integrated environmental, minority, and Internally Displaced People (IDP) concerns into the existing priorities and for supporting the reinforcement of NGOs' role both in designing a new plan and in monitoring progress. At the same time, draft NIP for 2010-2013 underscores that "the process of developing the new NIP should go beyond obtaining input from CSOs and promoting dialogue between the EC and CSOs, but also, more importantly between Civil Society and the government of Georgia". At the same time, the Commission noted that NGOs' active participation and a corresponding reinforcement of their role should be a priority.
It is noteworthy that the European Commission's opinion on the problems of involvement of civil society was appropriate. Still in the initial draft of the ENPI revision, it was already noted that there are several problems in the current fields of cooperation ("To specifically mention some lessons learned from EC assistance to Georgia, one main challenge that should be mentioned is that there was a lack of common understanding between EC and the government of Georgia on principles of good governance and sustainable cooperation. Georgia should be encouraged to sign the Paris Declaration and the discussion leading to this could provide a useful space for debate on basic principles of cooperation. It has been a challenge for the EC-Georgia cooperation that some basics of the approach were not always shared. There is, for example, a clear need to base assistance on sector policies, which have been elaborated in consultative and transparent processes. This is key to ensure sustainability of government programmes and accordingly the assistance especially in a politically rather unstable environment"