BCSDN Newsletter 54, July - October, 2013
BCSDN Mid-term Strategy 2012-2014

SBPPF grantees from Kosovo, Macedonia, and Serbia discuss their project proposals at the public policy and advocacy training in Skopje.

CSO sustainability expectations for certain Southern Tier countries did improve this year which indicates some development, yet it has not affected the overall average for the region that currently still sits at its 2007 score of 3.7






DG Enlargement should follow the ATI recommendations in order to fulfill their goal of publishing to 72% of IATI fields by 2015 so as to set a significant transparency benchmark for accession country institutions which are the benefactors of Enlargement aid.

BCSDN has for the 5th consecutive year done a civil society development focused analysis of the Enlargement Strategy and Progress Reports


BCSDN Executive Director, Tanja Hafner Ademi discusses lack of IPA CSF allocation in Macedonia at an oversight hearing in Skopje


TACSO continues for four more years after the EU awarded the TACSO 2 project to the Swedish Institute for Public Administration (SIPU) International

Six researchers have been selected for internships through the International Visegrad Fund, Young Researchers Programme



Brainstorming with the EC on IPA CSF Support: Converging Views

In a workshop organized at the EESC in Brussels on the 25th of September, BCSDN together with its members and partners discussed concerns regarding future IPA CSF support with DG Enlargement. The discussion focused especially on further ways to support capacity-building of CSOs, grant-making, support to grass-root & citizens' initiatives, and networks as the cornerstones for the new support to be launched with IPA II as of January, 2014. As the discussion concluded, it was clear that the time for input is now and it seems that this time around DG Enlargement is poised to make the best of the local CSOs' capacities and knowledge, thus making existing local capacities, grant-making facilities, flexible aid modalities, and networking support the centerpiece of its future support. Views on needs and possibilities are definitely converging, but time is needed to see what the Brussels "pipeline" will produce. More detailed information on what was discussed at the workshop can be read in BCSDN’s workshop report.
On the 30th of October, the first training on Advocacy and Policy Paper Writing for selected grantees within the Slovak and Balkan Public Policy Fund (SBPPF) took place at the EU Info Center in Skopje. The training brought together representatives of the 9 selected grantees-organizations from Kosovo, Macedonia and Serbia. The main objective of this training was to provide guidance and to better prepare the grantees on how to write analytical policy papers and plan a good advocacy strategy. At the end of the training, the grants contracts were signed with the grantees. The outcome of the selected projects are going to be policy papers which will help bring the EU membership debate into a broader point of view. Later, not only will they be used for communication with the wider public, but they will also be offered to national governments as well as the European Commission. The training for representatives of 12 selected grantees from Albania, BiH, and Montenegro will be held on the 6th of November, 2013 in Tirana, Albania. The training will be organized together with CRNVO and IDM. More information about SBPPF objectives, selected project information, etc. is available here.

Private Grant-makers Discuss Transparency at their Annual Meeting

From the 16-18th of October, TRAG Foundation and the SEE Indigenous Grant-makers Network (SIGN) hosted the 18th Grant-makers East Forum (GEF) in Belgrade. GEF is the annual gathering of private foundations supporting civil society work in the Balkans, Eastern Europe, and Russia. The overarching theme of this year’s gathering was transparency which was discussed in a variety of contexts. These included the operation of grant-makers, decision-making over grants and grantees, the effect of IT and access to information, and how transparency transcends and affect the work of private grant-makers both globally and within GEF regions. The event which attracted over 60 representatives of donors was also attended by Tanja Hafner Ademi, the Executive Director of BCSDN. More information about the event including reports on the various sessions can be found on the GEF website.


BCSDN Review of the 2012 USAID CSO Sustainability Index

During June, USAID presented the 16th edition of their CSO Sustainability Index focused on CEE and Eurasia. The Index measures and reports on the sustainability of the CSO sector in twenty-nine countries throughout the region. BCSDN prepared a short review and assessment of the countries in the Southern Tier, which covers the Balkans. It found that three countries in this tier received a more positive outlook towards their sustainability this year. Bulgaria, Montenegro, and Serbia were all perceived to have made significant positive developments towards the sustainability of their CSO sectors. Despite these positive developments however, CSOs in the region are still hampered by access to financial resources, constrictive and hard-to-navigate legal environments, and a struggle to win the hearts and minds of the public. From the Index, stagnation of overall CSO sustainability in the Southern Tier since 2007 was identified showing the continued lack of significant CSO sector development in this region. For more on the region and country specific assessments please read BCSDN’s full review.

BCSDN Joins CIVICUS World Alliance for Citizen Participation

During July, BCSDN officially became a member of CIVICUS World Alliance for Citizen Participation. The CIVICUS alliance consists of a group of people and organisations from around the world dedicated to strengthening civil society and citizen action. It currently represents over 1,000 members from more than 100 countries. The main areas for cooperation between BCSDN and CIVICUS that were identified are: (1) participating and contributing to CIVICUS’s global civil society assessments via the Civil Society Rapid Assessment and State of Civil Society report for the Balkan region; (2) contributing to the development of CIVICUS’s Enabling environment monitoring methodology based on the BCSDN Matrix for Enabling Environment for Civil Society Development; (3) providing input into a global survey on the quality of engagement between the intergovernmental sphere and civil society; and (4) becoming an official partner on civil society related news from the Balkan region by providing relevant information on the country/regional context.Venera Hajrullahu, Chair of the BCSDN Board, was also one of twenty-six candidates on the ballot paper for CIVICUS’s 2013 board elections. Find out more about CIVICUS here.

2013 Aid Transparency Index – DG Enlargement Considerably Improves its Ranking by Starting to Publish to IATI

On the 24th of October, Publish What You Fund, the global campaign for aid transparency, advocating for a significant increase in the availability and accessibility of comprehensive, timely, and comparable aid information, published the 2013 edition of their Aid Transparency Index (ATI). The ATI is the industry standard for assessing foreign assistance transparency among the world’s major donors and in 2013 included 67 donor organizations in its assessment. A large amount of these (33) are signatories to the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI), accounting for more than 85% of Official Development Finance (ODF). The results of the 2013 ATI show that there is a leading group of organisations that publish large amounts of useful information on their current aid activities. For the first time, a U.S. agency – the Millennium Challenge Corporation – ranked top, scoring 89%. Yet, more than a third of the organisations ranked, still score less than 20%. This includes large donors, such as France and Japan, which have committed to implement the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI). One of the biggest improvers in this year’s report however, was the European Commission’s Director General for Enlargement (DG Enlargement). It performed best with regards to its organizational planning and received an overall score of 48.1%, which is commendable compared to the global average of 32.63%. While scoring relatively high in the Index there remains considerable room for improvement. BCSDN participated in the ATI by assessing the performance of DG Enlargement for the 2nd year and has prepared a useful summary of the ATI findings on DG Enlargement.


The Enlargement Strategy 2013 Increases Focus on the Enabling Environment for Civil Society

For the 5th consecutive year, BCSDN analyzed how the EC has treated the issue of civil society development (CSDev) in the Enlargement Strategy and Progress Reports and assessed the progress made form the past year in the Enlargement countries. The 2013 analysis shows that similarly to last year, the Commission has maintained its focus on issues related to Government-CSO relationships. However, while last year BCSDN’s paper criticized the insufficient focus on crucial areas for consolidating the enabling environment in which civil society functions and operates, this year’s Reports increased its attention on issues over financial viability and sustainability of the sector such as tax regimes and state funding and support (e.g. Albania, BiH, Kosovo, Macedonia, Turkey). A shift in the methodology for assessing Political criteria for accession, including development and involvement of civil society can also be observed. The novelty in the reports has been the Commission’s intention to “increase focus on civil society” as a way to meet the key challenges in bringing about functioning democratic institutions. The analysis is set in the framework of the BCSDN Monitoring Matrix on Enabling Environment for Civil Society Development (CSDev) developed in 2012, which provides a set of principles, standards, and indicators for an optimum enabling environment for CSDev. You can read the full analysis here. The integral working documents that served as a basis for the analysis are also available: Excel table with extracts from Progress Reports related to CSDev since 2006, and an integral text of extracts from Progress Reports for 2013.

Guidelines for Support to Civil Society in the Enlargement Countries: Outcomes of Online and National Consultations May-June 2013

DG Enlargement is in the process of finalizing guidelines for support to civil society in the enlargement countries for the period 2014-2020. Consultation on the first draft of the guidelines took place in Brussels on the 25th and 26th of April, with invited stakeholders representing civil society, government offices for cooperation with civil society, and EU Delegations in the region. Based on stakeholder input at the Brussels event, the draft Guidelines were revised and published for broader consultation online as well as at national consultation events. On the 14th of June, BCSDN submitted its comments on the DG Enlargement’s draft Guidelines. In the second week of July, the DG Enlargement published the outcome of this second round of consultations. BCSDN's comments were acknowledged by the DG Enlargement in the first four points of the consultation outcomes document and were said to be reflected in the draft guidelines. The outcome of the consultations can be downloaded here as well as the second draft of the Guidelines here. The deadline for final comments on the guidelines expired at the end of August. BCSDN is staying involved in the finalization of the Guidelines with DG Enlargement and TACSO.

More Grant Schemes, not TA for Civil Society under IPA Macedonia – IPA CSF Research Findings Presented at Oversight Hearing, Local Media in Macedonia

Tanja Hafner Ademi, Executive Director of BCSDN was a witness at an oversight hearing on IPA funds at the Macedonia Parliament which took place on the 11th of July. The hearing that was organized by the Committee for European Affairs featured accounts by Mr. Fatmir Besimi, National IPA Coordination (NIPAC), Zoran Stavreski, Minister of Finance, Ivica Bocevski, former NIPAC (2008-2011), Leposava Apostolovski Velinov, Head of IPA Audit body, and witnesses/experts from civil society. Ms. Hafner Ademi focused her presentation on the IPA Civil Society Facility support, concluding that Macedonia has allocated smaller amounts of IPA compared to other IPA countries (0,8% of IPA Macedonia 2007-2013) to the proposed 2% by the EC and has furthermore used this mainly for building capacities of the Government not CSOs (i.e. 67% of funds by 2011 were used for TA and only 33% for grant schemes). By answering questions from the MPs, she further elaborated that CSOs from Macedonia have a good track record (3rd only after CSOs from Croatia and Serbia) in raising funds from IPA CSF. Moreover, a structured approach from an ad-hoc one is needed in terms of involving CSOs in IPA programming at the time when the IPA 2014-2020 programming has started. Full written contribution (in Macedonia) is available here. Tanja Hafner Ademi was also interviewed for the Macedonian national TV station ALFA and was a participant to TV 24Vesti Analysis show on the same topic.

European Parliamentary Elections, 2014: CSOs Need to Influence Political Agendas

European Parliamentary (EP) Elections will be held on the 22nd-25th of May, 2014. The 2014 EP Elections provides a chance for citizens of the 28 EU member states (MS) to elect their preferred representatives to the EP for 2014-2019. It is the first EP Election held under the Lisbon Treaty, which provides an enhanced role for citizens as political actors in the EU and strengthens the powers of the EP (e.g. allows MEPs to have the last word on international agreements), consolidating its role as co-legislator and giving it an additional responsibility: the election of the president of the Commission. This gives an opportunity for the EP to use its new powers under the Lisbon treaty to shape the new Commission. As part of her internship, Lale Azak, former Advocacy and Lobbying Intern at BCSDN under the OSI TTF Young Professional Development Program, prepared a short analysis on the 2014 EP Elections. In this analysis she highlights and examines some of the new aspects of the 2014 elections and discusses what is to be expected in 2014. The analysis also pays special attention to the Enlargement policy of each political group in the EP towards the Western Balkans and Turkey. Lale Azak concludes that as most of the groups are currently busy formulating or refining their election manifestos for the 2014 elections an opportunity exists, especially for CSOs, to make sure that the issues for which they advocate are included in these. She includes a list of resources which can be useful for doing this.

Novelties in TACSO 2 (2013-2017) Discussed at the EU Programming Committee

The EU Programming Committee (EUPC), which brings together European-level networks working and interested in civil society in Enlargement countries, took place in Brussels on the 24th of September. The meeting focused on the launch of the TACSO 2 project as the main support to capacity building of civil society in Enlargement countries in the next 4 years (till 2017). The project is currently in its 3-month inception phase. DG Enlargement expects a reduced scope of work for technical assistance would remain after the end of the project, i.e. 2017 onwards. While continuing to provide capacity-building as during TACSO 1, the focus of TACSO 2 will be on the 3 main novelties introduced in this phase: “Phase out” (transfer of capacity-building from TA offices to resource centers) within 12 months of the start of the project, EC Guidelines finalization and monitoring, and the continuation and localization of P2P programmes via TACSO. The inception report for the project, which will “carve out” the details of TACSO’s work and country action plans including country options for transfer of the capacity-building role of TACSO, is to be submitted to the Commission by the end of November. BCSDN will be preparing its input and will participate in the finalization of the EC Guidelines via its work on the monitoring of the enabling environment as set forth in its Monitoring Matrix. Any interested CSOs can get engaged and give its feedback on TACSO’s future either via a survey on the TACSO website or by applying for membership in their country’s Local Advisory Groups (LAGs). For the survey and LAG membership procedures and criteria visit the TACSO website.


Slovak and Balkan Public Policy Fund: Investing in the Policy and Advocacy Capacity of 21 CSOs and Young Researchers

At the end of July, BCSDN and the Pontis Foundation announced the second Call for Proposals under the Slovak and Balkan Public Policy Fund (SBPPF) for researchers and organizations from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia to develop research proposals dealing with one of the following policy priority themes: (1) Democracy and the rule of law; and (2) Non-majority communities. On the 29th of October, BCSDN announced the successful candidates for funding. Out of 167 submitted project proposals from organizations and researchers, 21 proposals were selected for funding. The pilot phase of the Fund has proved to be a successful support model for boosting the advocacy skills of the organizations in Albania, Macedonia, and Montenegro and the projects supported last year have demonstrated tangible results from their policy work. BCSDN is convinced that the selection, conducted by an evaluation committee composed of experts on public policy issues, advocacy, and civil society development from the Western Balkan countries and EU countries, has great advocacy potential and has the potential for real impact in their respective fields of work. The awarded organizations and individuals will also receive training on advocacy and policy paper writing as well as continuous support in the implementation of the project by BCSDN and Pontis as well as from their assigned mentors. For more information on the successful candidates and their project please follow this link.

Internship Component of the SBPPF Launched with 6 Staff of Local CSOs’ Placements in CEE Partner Organizations

Under the Slovak and Balkan Public Policy Fund (SBPPF), Young Researches Programme, BCSDN, the Pontis Foundation (Slovakia), DEMAS (Czech Republic), Demnet (Hungary), and KCSF (Kosovo) announced a Call for Proposal  on the 17th of July, for researchers and organizations from Macedonia and Kosovo to undertake research on a number of contemporary topics. The objective of the programme is to provide interns with a chance to get first-hand experience with successful stories of the transformation process and involvement of the civil society in policy-making in CEE. The six selected fellows are currently being placed in organizations in Bratislava, Prague, and Budapest, depending on their chosen research topics, and will remain there for a period of 1 month. This programme is a pilot component as an addition to the SBPPF.

New Project: Learn About Your Benefits from Active European Citizenship

A number of BCSDN member organizations (CNVOS, VESTA, and CRVNO) and BCSDN itself have partnered up with the Association for the Promotion of Human Rights and Media Freedoms (Cenzura Plus) and the European Citizen Action Service (ECAS) from Belgium to implement the project “Learn about your benefits from active European citizenship”. The project aims at fostering and improving the sense of European citizenship in an already member country of the EU (Slovenia), in a new EU member country (Croatia), in candidate countries (Macedonia and Montenegro), and in a potential candidate country (BiH). The activities of the program will be directed towards increasing awareness about the EU, the rights and opportunities for citizens as defined by different EU policies, and citizens’ participation in political processes, especially decision making processes, on all levels (including the EU level). It will also be directed at increasing the capacity of the civil society sector as one of the leading agents in the above democratic processes. The project is being implemented from the 1st of August, 2013 to the 31st of January, 2015 and will implement a variety of activities including: TV and radio broadcasts, public conferences, workshops, presentations, debates, a number of informative publications, and the establishment of a regional web portal.


BCSDN Board Meetings

BCSDN’s Board held its 3rd session in correspondence to approve membership in the CIVICUS network and to nominate BCSDN Chair, Ms. Venera Hajrullahu as its candidate for the CIVICUS Board elections. The next Board meeting for 2013 has been scheduled for the 5th of December. The Board meeting will take place in Skopje. Strategic decisions will be discussed including the start of the new mid-term planning process 2014-2016, setting up internal regulations, and regular business concerns such as the draft annual plan and report.

BCSDN’s Executive Office is Growing

At the end of September, BCSDN hired two new staff members in its Executive Office. Cobus Victor, who has helped in the Office as a Communication Intern since April on, has assumed the position of Information and Communication Assistant to assist with BCSDN’s internal and external communications and information sharing while also managing its social media presence. Biljana Stojanoska, a previous intern at BCSDN, has joined the Office in August to serve as a Policy and Advocacy Officer responsible for policy analysis and advocacy of the networks’ priorities. BCSDN would like to take this opportunity to welcome the new staff members and wish them all the best with their future at the Network. Information on current BCSDN staff as well as their expertise can be found on their website.


Training for SBPPF Grantees: 6th November, Tirana 

BCSDN within the Slovak and Balkan Public Policy Fund will be organizing a second training session for the selected grantees of the Fund. The training will take place in Tirana on the 6th of November, in cooperation with BCSDN member organizations IDM and CRNVO. The training will be for the grantees from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Montenegro. The focus of the training will be on drafting a good policy paper as an advocacy tool covering different topics like: the Cycle of Policy Making, key players and tools to participate in the policy process (special focus on CSOs), and Advocacy in Public Policy Projects. The training will also be used to officially sign the contracts and will further serve as a kick off for their implementation. 

Regional Workshop on State Financing, 13-14th of November, 2013 - Novi Sad, Serbia

In line with BCSDN’s action plan under the EU funded “Balkan Civil Society Acquis” project, the first regional planning and advocacy event will take place in month 12 of the project (November, 2013) . As the most important part of the project is monitoring and advocacy on the enabling environment for CSDev as per BCSDN’s Monitoring Matrix, this joint workshop will be the first chance to discuss the preliminary results of the monitoring and especially the joint advocacy which is to follow as of 2014. Due to the importance of financial viability and sustainability issues (as per our matrix Area 2) to the overall development of civil society, the topic of this 1st workshop will be state financing. The workshop is being organized together with EHO and ECNL and will take place in Novi Sad, Serbia from the 13-14th of November. The specific objectives of the workshop are: to map out the existing framework of state financing in the Balkan countries, to share European tendencies and good practices, to identify opportunities and develop plans for advocacy in order to increase state funding in the represented countries, and to convene the representatives of CSOs and state institutions to facilitate regional networking and experience sharing.

CIVICUS Annual General Meeting, 12th of November, 2013 - Johannesburg, South Africa

CIVICUS' Annual General Meeting (AGM) will be taking place on Tuesday the 12th of November, in Johannesburg, South Africa. The meeting will be attended by both voting and associate members of CIVICUS and will also be open for other organizations/individuals to attend in a purely observer capacity. Interested parties can register by following this link.
This Newsletter is a 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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