BCSDN: Newsletter June 2016

The Toolkit

Monitoring Matrix and EU Civil Society Guidlines methodlogy matching table

Report on the Economic Value of the Non-Profit Sector in the Countries of the Western Balkans & Turkey

Infographic: Economic Value of the Non-Profit Sector in WBT


Supporting vs. Fostering: The Effectiveness of EU’s Regional Support for CSO Partnerships

BPPF: Balkan Public Policy Fund Outputs: Enhancing CSOs Capacities in Monitoring and Advocating on Civil Society-Related Policies

Democratic Standards Unfolding, Basic Rights Under Threat – BCSDN Analysis of the Progress Reports and EC Enlargement Strategy 2015



The Monitoring Matrix 2015 Reports on Enabling Environment (EE) for Civil Society Development (CSDev) for all seven countries are now available. The reports present the developments in EE in 2015, outlining the key conclusions and recommendations for improvement. After publishing the baseline reports in 2013 and 2014, the 2015 reports are focused on presenting situation under 24 standards for each country. This enables an in-depth presentation of the situation with the intention to enable analysis and concrete recommendations for this to be addressed by public institutions, donors, civil society and other stakeholders.  The reports allow both for in-country and between country comparison. For more information on all reports, their national presentations and the trends in the EE in Enlargement countries visit



In addition to in-depth and qualitative monitoring, the 2015 monitoring results are also presented in 5-grade scale “traffic light” codes . This for the first time enables easy and visual presentation of the enabling environment situation in each of the specific Monitoring Matrix dimensions (standards) over time and across countries. The second novelty introduced, includes assessments against the EU Guidelines for Support to Civil Society in Enlargement Countries benchmarks and targets, which enables the Monitoring Matrix results to directly feed into the Guidelines monitoring exercise.


Setting Institutional Fundamentals, Basic Preconditions Still to be Addressed 

According to Partners Albania for Change and Development (PA) research, in 2015 CSOs continued to operate within a stable and generally functional legal framework. Still, lengthy, costly, arbitrary and centralized registration process continues to hamper exercise of basic right to establishment and operation of CSOs. The general increase in profit tax from 10% to 15% introduced during 2015, as well as the requirement for payment of social contributions for at least one employee, negatively affect and hamper the basic functioning of CSOs, especially grass roots. Lack of VAT refund under IPA projects, and requests from some donors to issue VAT invoice for grants continue to hinder financial viability of CSOs. Public funding is considered insufficient by the CSOs for their institutional development and financial sustainability.  The Law on the Establishment and Functioning of the National Council on Civil Society and the Road Map for Drafting Policy and Measures for Enabling Environment to Civil Society are two positive developments, through which the state has institutionalized the recognition of the importance of the development of and cooperation with the sector. Problematic remains the effective participation of CSOs in law and policy making processes. The full report is available here .

Civil Society Development on Hold, Another Lost Year for Reforms

According to Civil Society Promotion Center (CSPC) research, the legislative framework and its implementation remained stable, but 2015 marked another year in which key civil society related reforms such as available official data on CSOs, development of a Strategy, improving tax framework and public funding accountability, and transparency failed to be implemented. An attempt to amend the Law on Associations and Foundations providing a possibility for the public legal entities to establish associations and foundations and introducing stricter rules for the oversight of the flow of money within the sector to prevent money laundering, were averted by CSOs, but the amendment remains on the 2016 Parliamentary agenda. While cases of consultation have been noted, in general, the Rules on Consultations in Legislative Drafting of the Council of Ministers are still not fully implemented. Most of the Ministries are not regularly using the Rules or are fully ignoring it. The full report is available here.   

Implementation of Key Reforms Started, Basic Preconditions Still on the Waiting List

According to Kosovar Civil Society Foundation (KCSF) research, the basic environment for CSOs operation during 2015 remained favorable, but the provisions and practice of suspension of CSOs by the Department for NGOs and the restriction on financial flows under the Law on Prevention of Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing remained to be implemented. While tax exemption on private donors was raised from 5% to 10%, many provisions related to CSOs taxation remain ambiguous and not harmonized. A model on public funding for CSOs has been selected and its operationalization is planned for 2016. Only a minor part of the activities planned in the Government Strategy for Cooperation with Civil Society were implemented. The committed budget is not allocated from the Government, while active participation and contribution from many line ministries is lagging behind. The Regulation on Minimum Standards on Public Consultations has been drafted jointly with civil society and is expected to be adopted by the Government in early 2016. Nevertheless, the involvement of CSOs in decision-making is still not standardized and the limited implementation of current legal requirements does not allow for civil society input in a timely manner in many policy and legislative initiatives. The full report is available here.


Worrying Trends on Freedom of Association, Assembly, Stalled Structural Reforms
According to Macedonian Center for International Cooperation (MCIC) research, the legal framework remained to guarantee basic freedoms, but legal insecurity has continued with laws being changed without taking into consideration specific nature of CSOs potentially endangering the essence of the freedom of association and work of CSOs. The 2015 amendments of the Law on Police introduced 4 new means for dispersing a crowd and video recordings from gatherings, whose practical usage makes serious concerns on the right of peaceful assembly. Key challenges in financial viability and sustainability remain unaddressed. CSOs do not have tax benefits/reliefs or are in less favorable situation compared to for-profit entities, the Law on Donations and Sponsorships is still not fully functional in practice and the adoption of the draft Decision to regulate the transparency and accountability for granting state funds to CSOs has not progressed. The dialogue between the Government and civil society has continued to be underdeveloped. At the beginning of 2015, there were discussions on the draft Decision to establish a Council for promoting the cooperation, dialogue and stimulating the development of civil society, but the consultation process was not inclusive and the needs of CSO were not fully considered. The involvement of the CSOs in policy creation and law preparation has deteriorated with numerous laws were adopted in a shortened procedure without consultations. The full report is available here.


Structural Problems Remaining, Dialoguing Only a Formality 
According to Center for Development of NGOs (CRNVO) research, the basic legislative framework for operation of CSOs remained functional. The Government launched the process of developing a new Law on NGOs, but the drafting process is, however, reported not to be fully participatory. Conditions for financial viability and sustainability of CSOs remain the main concern: public funding does not meet the needs of CSOs, is not on sufficient level and its distribution is not in line with legal regulations. Practice of non-financial support to CSOs exists, but it is being allocated in a non-transparent manner. The current Law on Volunteer Work bureaucratizes and complicates the process of volunteering, causing obstacles for volunteer engagements in the sector, rather than promoting voluntarism as one of the key ways of contributing to the community. Several mechanisms for cooperation, including the Council for Cooperation with CSOs, created in the past, have been used only for formality and less to practice real and substantive dialogue. Second legislation regarding CSOs participation as providers of social services has been adopted during the last year. The full report is available here.


Basic Preconditions in the Draft-Room, Substantive Dialogue Limited
According to Civic Initiatives (CI) research, the Government launched preparation of a comprehensive Civil Code that provides controversial and restrictive provisions for establishing and operating CSOs. The Public Assembly Act was declared unconstitutional and upon four months of delay, a new one, not in line with international standards, has been adopted. Violations of rights are most common in the area of freedom of expression. No major advances were made in improving financial viability and sustainability of CSOs: PBO remains to be defined unclearly and the tax system is not favorable for CSOs. The public funding is not transparent enough and CSOs are not included in making priorities and developing programs. There is no obligation for including CSOs in all phases of policy-creation and decision-making. CSOs do not receive feedback on their suggestions and comments. CSOs are not in equal position when competing for service provisions. While the National Strategy for Enabling Environment was finalized and underwent wide and inclusive consultation process, it is still waiting to be adopted and implemented. The Director position at the Office for Cooperation with Civil Society was left vacant since March 2015 hampering the coordination and systematic dialoguing processes between public institutions and CSOs. The full report is available here. 


Lack of Structural Framework Continues, Focus on Defending Basic Freedoms, Civic Space

According to Third Sector Foundation of Turkey (TUSEV) research, there were no major changes in the limited conditions in which CSOs operate. The new Government Action Plan 2016 envisaged an adoption of a new comprehensive Civil Society Law. CSOs continue to face a legal framework, which is either non-compliant with international standards or is focused on limitations rather than freedoms. In June 2015, Turkey’s Constitutional Court ruled to expand freedom of expression and protect right to peaceful assembly, but the practice is still restrictive. The financial viability and sustainability remains to be the main challenge for CSOs: PBO status is still granted to very limited number of CSOs via a highly bureaucratic, political and non-transparent manner, while the privileges brought by these statuses are very limited. A standardized approach or legislation with respect to state funding does not exist. There is no regular and continuous public funding mechanism that supports the institutional infrastructure and activities of CSOs. Major criticisms by CSOs on transparency and accountability of funds allocated by the public bodies exist.  There is neither a government strategy nor relevant legal or operational framework laying out public sector-CSO relations. The full report is available here.
This Newsletter is publication of the Balkan Civil Society Development Network. It is published on a periodic basis in English. For  more  information  on  the  network  visit: 
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