BCSDN Newsletter 50, August - October
BCSDN Mid-term Strategy 2012-2014
Table of Contents
The goal of this initiative is to increase the efficiency of the already existing civil society services’ infrastructure in Europe by supporting the development of its European oriented profile in terms of resources, experience, knowledge and synergy to make European citizens’ voice heard in Europe.

Open Government Standards is a citizen-led initiative to set standards on what open, transparent, accountable and participatory government really means.

This document presents an analysis of the European Commission 2012 Progress Reports for the countries of Western Balkans and Turkey the Enlargement Strategy Paper for 2012 in view of the enabling environment for civil society development (CSDev).

BCSDN advocates for better support of EU towards civil society

A donor aid transparency index paints a mixed picture on how the European Commission disperses its aid funds outside the EU.

Balkan Civil Society Acquis – Strenghtening the Advocacy and Monitoring Potential and Capacities of CSOs.

Joint cross-border initiative: CRNVO & PartnersAlbania.

Joint small grants project and sharing of experiences: CRNVO & Civic Initiatives.

BCSDN Email Alerts Survey - Tell us what you think...

The conference “Keeping up the Momentum: Civil Society Cooperation with Institutions in the Western Balkans and Turkey” is one of the key events where BCSDN will present the initial draft of the monitoring matrix 
The Civil Society Forum is organized to provide an opportunity to exchange views on the current situation of civil society in the region, its needs and its future development. BCSDN ED will participate at the event.



Matrix Development in Final Stage: Stakeholder Consultations & Indicators in Refinement 

In an effort to develop a realistic and sound monitoring matrix, stakeholder consultation have been started. On 26th September, the draft matrix was presented to 15 representatives of Government bodies dealing with civil society from 7 IPA countries to enable their feedback on human and financial effects of the implementation of the standards proposed in the matrix. The Government’s reactions were constructive: the matrix will help identify gaps; could be used as self-assessment tool etc. The draft matrix is available from BCSDN website to enable interested CSOs and other stakeholders provide proposal for its improvement. Meanwhile, the 10-expert/CSO practitioner team is using the time to refine the general indicators for the 27-standards matrix and prepare for its final publication.  

Slovak - Balkan Public Policy Fund, Pilot Phase Brought to Successful End

Between 25th and 27th October, a monitoring visit at the end of the 14 month pilot phase concluded that the Slovak-Balkan Public Policy Fund (the Fund) has proved to be a successful support model for boosting the advocacy skills of the organizations in Albania, Macedonia and Montenegro. The monitoring visit included meetings of representatives from Pontis Fundation and BCSDN with state officials and other stakeholders targeted with the policy work of the organizations as well as the informal meeting with Macedonian grantees. The meetings showed tangible results from the policy work, such as: the Macedonian Energy Regulatory Commission presented the preparation of the new energy bills, which take into account the recommendations of the Consumers Organization Macedonia (COM) policy paper; Front 21/42 shared the 3 amendments on the IPPC directive now directly incorporated in the Law on Environment. Moreover, concrete results from the policy work and networking provided by the Fund could be seen from the September study visit in Brussels,  where for example COM started the membership procedure with ANEC and where Montenegrin CSOs met with the MEP Tannock, rapporteur for Montenegro in the EP for the first time, a meeting that will result in a first larger exchange with other CSOs in Podgorica in November. Full information about the activities of the Fund and the policy papers are available here. The Fund will continue its support in 2013 with support to further round of organization from IPA countries. 


BCSDN Joins the European Year of Citizens (EYC) 2013 Alliance

The European Year of Citizens (EYC) 2013 Alliance is an informal European-level civil society alliance that brings together over 40 European civil society organizations and networks members of the EESC Liaison Group, supported by the European Economic and Social Committee. While the EU institutions are aiming to put focus on raising awareness on Union citizens' rights, the Alliance is focused on promoting the broadening of the scope to promotion of democratic and active citizenship during the EYC 2013 campaign. The aim of the Alliance, in the long run, is to mobilise and coordinate wide civil society engagement in the activities which will be scheduled during the European Year of Citizens 2013, to initiate a European-wide debate on issues relating to the exercise of European citizens rights and to citizens’ participation in the democratic life of the EU. As EYICA states in their Manifesto, active citizenship means primarily active involvement of citizens as participation in the life of their communities, and thus in democracy, in terms of activity and decision-making. BCSDN became member of the Alliance in the course of September.

BCSDN Joins the European Civil Society House Initiative

The European Civil Society House (ECSH) is an initiative aiming to provide a virtual and physical space of local and national level organizations and citizens to reach and participate at European level decision-making. The initiative has now moved from acting as primarily virtual internet platform at European and national level to developing partnerships as effort to establish a physical house in Brussels. BCSDN has jointed and supports this initiative formally since August this year. A process to obtain, renovate and make a physical ECSH functional in the Etterbeek district of Brussels is under way in order to be accessible to citizens visiting Brussels and will help build a pan-European civil community. Started by ECAS, the ECSH is also involved in promotion of the European Citizen’s Initiative (ECI) as a way to engage citizens into European-level decision-making and is working on networking of civil society resource centers across Europe, incl. Enlargement countries to strengthen their European and citizen dimension. With the focus on ECSH, a conference hosted by Gerald Hafner, MEP and rapporteur on ECI is being organized in the EP on 7th November for representatives of not-for profit resource centers from EU MS and Enlargement countries. The participants will have the opportunity to exchange experiences and lessons learnt, discuss Europe-wide activities, explore opportunities for networking and boost synergies.

OGP Standards Being Developed & First Region-wide Promotion Takes Place in Dubrovnik

On 4-5 October, 2012, the Croatian Government hosted the 2nd Open Government Partnership (OGP) European Outreach and Support Meeting in Dubrovnik. The focus of the event was on facilitating individual outcomes-oriented conversations around key access to information themes, including legislative reform, proactive disclosure, enforcement and monitoring, records management, civil society engagement, ICTs, and government implementation. Discussions took place regarding the quality and usability of data, the challenges of engagement related to strengthening the demand side of access to information, particularly in getting CSOs and technology groups to use the data and services made available by governments, the management of government records through the National Archives, etc. The Experts emphasized institutionalizing participation through various means, like public audits or e-petitions to strengthen access to information mechanisms’ role in making government more open. Parallelly, Open Government Standards led by  Access Info Europe aims to reach an agreement on the basic elements of what constitutes open government so that governments can be called to meet these standards by end of this year and based on this, preform monitoring on government action plans in 2013. For more information and how to get involves visit the website of the initiative.


Background Analysis: EC Progress Reports 2012 & Civil Society Development

For the 4th consecutive year, BCSDN prepared background analysis on how civil society development (CSDev) is treated and what progress (or lack thereof) has been noted form the past year in Enlargement countries. The Analysis notes that overall, the Commission has maintained its focus on the issues pertinent to involvement of civil society in policy and decision making, administrative capacity of state institutions to draft and adopt quality legislation through an inclusive process and on the mechanisms that stimulate funding of CSOs. However, the most crucial areas for consolidating the enabling environment for CSDev in the mid-term such as tax regime, state support and human resources issues are insufficiently addressed. The greatest novelty this year is a recognition that “more enabling environment and the conditions for improved policy dialogue [need to be] put in place”, steaming from the Commission Communication “The roots of democracy and sustainable development: Europe's engagement with Civil Society in external relations” published on 12th September, which for the first time  since the Enlargement Strategy 2007 recognizes the need to combine both financial (IPA CSF) and political means (monitoring via Progress Reports) to tackle strengthening the democratic institutions and process in Enlargement countries. The full Analysis is available here, while the previous analysis can be read here.

Future EU Support to Civil Society: A Series of Meetings Held with DG Enlargement

On 17th October, Tanja Hafner Ademi, Executive Director and Venera Hajrullahu, the Chair of the Board held several meetings in DG Enlargement. In the context of EC Enlargement Strategy and Progress Reports 2012-2013 and start of planning of civil society support under IPA II 2014-2020, the aim of the meetings was to present BCSDN vision and concrete recommendations on the Commission’s support. The main issues discussed with Joost Korte (Deputy Director General), Andris Kesteris (Principle Advisor for Civil Society and Media) and the Civil Society Unit team were the importance of enabling environment for CSDev; the ways in which local capacities and infrastructure (organizations, resource centers, networks etc.) could be further utilized via the new approach launched under IPA CSF 2011-2013. On this occasion, the Monitoring matrix on enabling environment for CSDev, preliminary findings from the IPA CSF 2009-2011 research and position on TACSO were presented.

Aid Transparency Index Finds DG Enlargement Ranked as Poor

On 1st October, Publish What You Fund, the global campaign for aid transparency which advocates for a significant increase in the availability and accessibility of comprehensive, timely and comparable aid information, launched its 2012 Aid Transparency Index. The Index aims to assess how closely 72 main donor organizations’ data, including EC,  conforms to best practice based on the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) and the data each donor provides on-line. The Index finds that DG Enlargement performed poorly, particularly at the country level. DG Enlargement’s country level score, at just 14.3%, ranked 51st amongst all donors and was below the average of donors in the poor category for this level. The main problem is that DG Enlargement does not systematically publish information on aid type, description, actual expenditured, impact assesment or evaluations and results of activities at country level. The report urges all donors to sign and implement the ATI, which offers a global common standard for publishing aid information. The data for the assessment of DG Enlargement  were provided by BCSDN and verified by Publish What You Fund.


BCSDN Received Award Notice under IPA CSF Partnership Programme for CSOs

The Mid-Term strategy 2012-2014 was the basis of BCSDN application for the EC Partnership Programme grants. Through establishing a regional monitoring system on enabling environment for CSDev, advocacy on the funding, economic and fiscal-related policies and improved civil dialogue, promotion of sustainable exit strategy of foreign donors, support to advocacy capacity-building of local CSOs and improved 3Cs (communication, coordination and cooperation), the Plan will allow the network to consolidate its work in the next 3 years and direct the development of civil society towards the needs of local organizations and actors as well as provide for a structured, consistent pressure to national institutions.

Partners Albania & CRNVO: First Project Addressing Citizen Participation and Activism between Albania and Montenegro

CRNVO from Montenegro, in partnership with Partners Albania, are implementing a project „Civil Society and Local Self-government together in strenghtening social cohesion in Albania and Montenegro“. The municipalities which take part in the project are Danilovgrad, Bar, Berane and Plav from Montenegro, and Busati, Vau Dejes, Koplika and Dajca from Albania. Between 21th -22th September,, training was implemented on Citizens participation at local level, where 6 initiatives were prepared to be submitted to the competent authorities in Bar, Danilovgrad, Berane, Plav, Vau Dejes and Dajca.  The initiatives propose opening of a retirement house in Berane and Plan, construction of a shelter for abandoned animal in Bar and Danilovgrad, resolving the problem of potable water in Vau Dajes and resolving the problme of primary education for children in Dajca. The objective of the EU-funded project is to create concrete proposals and submit requests to the Montenegrian and Albanian municipalities in response to the needs and problems of the local communities. CRNVO and Partners Albania expect the local authorities in the two countries to recognise the values of civil society’s common efforts and to show openess and adapt to new working practices.  

CRNVO & Civic Initiatives: Small Grants Programme for CSOs in Montenegro

CRNVO is currently undertaking capacity building and small grants project for CSOs in Montenegro. The program has been developed with the aim to realize successful proposals that are selected with a call for the allocation of financial support for the projects on the following topics: advocacy and lobbying basics of project management, project implementation, monitoring and evaluation, financial management teams; reporting in EU projects and mechanisms of citizen participation in the decision making process at the local and national level. The EU-funded project "Active participation of civil society in the development of Montenegro" is implemented in partnership with Civic Initiatives, Belgrade. More information on this joint initiative is available here.


Membership Fee Reminder

This is a friendly reminder that your 2012 Membership Fees are due, therefore we kindly ask everybody to take care of the payment. If somebody has not received the membership fee invoice please contact the Executive Office at . We appreciate your support and contribution to our work.

Next Board Meeting 

The next physical session of the Board will take place in Skopje on 10th December. The aim of the meeting will be to discuss the achievements of the network in this past year and plan the course of activities and initiatives to be undertaken in 2013. 


Online Survey for Improved Email Alerts, Your Input Needed! (Deadline: 20.11.2012)

BCSDN considers sharing of information in timely, effective and useful manner to be crucial to improve capacity for cooperation and networking of CSOs and other relevant stakeholders on both national, regional and EU level. The E-mail alerts are one of the core activities of the network since 2004, which accounts to a growing audience of 1300 subscribers. This service has demonstrated that by pulling resources and information together, a difference can be made in the ability for CSOs to forge partnership across boundaries and across sectors. One of the main reasons subscribers find them useful is because they continuously try to be adapted to the needs of the civil society and its subscribers. Hence, the survey bellow is aimed at helping us take the E-mail alerts further to these needs in making them more relevant, useful in its content and effective in its format so that it is easy to read, get quick information and be able to share it to colleagues, other organizations and stakeholders. We extremely value any suggestion, input and comment that could help us make the E-mail alerts work better for you! Please take time and give us your input.

TACSO Regional Conference: Keeping up the Momentum: Civil Society Cooperation with Institutions in the Western Balkans and Turkey, 7-8 November, Skopje

The TACSO Regional Office is organizing this regional conference as a follow-up to several regional events organized this year around the issue of improved cooperation between Governments and civil society in Enlargement countries, including the March Partnership for Change conference organized by the Serbian Government Office for Cooperation with CSOs to which BCSDN was involved. The conference will be discussed based on an expert report prepared by ECNL. BCSDN has been invited to present the draft monitoring matrix for enabling environment for CSDev. For more information please contact TACSO Regional Office at

EESC 4th Forum, 26-27 November, Zagreb (Deadline: 05.11.2012)

On 26th-27th November, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) is organizing the 4th Western Balkan Civil Society Forum in Zagreb, Croatia. This year, the main discussion topics of the Forum will be how to improve media freedom and freedom of expression in the region; what role for CSOs in rural development and employment issues and how to further reinforce the capacity of CSOs in the Western Balkans. The aim of the Forum is to contribute to future accession to the EU, to foster civil and social dialogue, to increase the exchange of experiences and best practices.The deadline for registration is 5th November 2012 For more information please contact the Secretariat at 

Regional Workshop on EU Negotiation Process and Structural/Cohesion Funds, 11 December, Skopje

On 11th December, BCSDN is organizing the last in the series of regional exchange events on the topic of the role of civil society in the EU integration process. The event will bring together representatives of CSOs from the Balkan countries, Romania and Poland, as well other relevant interested stakeholders and Government representatives. This regional event aims to provide a platform for discussion regarding the active involvement of CSOs in the EU Accession Negotiations and the European Structural and Cohesion Funds. Debates will take place on how useful can the civil society platforms be in the negotiation processes, how to reconcile the active involvement in participating in negotiations with monitoring and which are the best practices of the CSO involvement in the process. The Structural and Cohesion Funds will be discussed in terms of their use so far, the role of CSOs in the accession countries in preparing and making best use of them in the future and the challenges in the period 2014-2020.  The workshop will provide recommendations for joint action and will draw conclusions from the discussions. More information will available as of beginning of November. Do no hesitate to contact our Executive office at: or visit our website. The workshop is being organized with the support of the Europe for Citizens programme and in cooperation with Cenzura Plus, Croatia. 

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: 
Executive Office
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