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					                                            WG EPAN
  Working Group on Enlargement, Pre-Accession and Neighbourhood
                                           Minutes
Venue: Institute for Cultural Affairs (ICA) Centre, Rue Amedee Lynen 8, 1210 Brussels

Participants: Alfredo Gracia (ES); Daniel Draxler (ADRA); Isabelle Ioannides (CY); Ivana Plechata
(CZ); Jelena Josic (Croatia); Kelly Grossthal (EE); Louis Bourgois (FR); Mara Simane (LV); Milan
Sagat (SK); Mirkka Mattila (FI); Petra Kreinecker (TRIALOG); Rebecca Steel (TRIALOG); Tanja
Hafner-Ademi (Macedonia); Valerie Ceccherini (UK); Viktoria Villanyi (HU); Vince Caruana (MT);
Wico Brunskoek (NL).

Observers/Speakers: Heather Grabbe (EC); Marie Skov (Eurostep); Pauline Denissel (WWF);
Tony Venables (ECAS).

Apologies: Andreas Vogt (CONCORD); Marjan Huc (SI).

23 April 2008 - Preparatory meeting

The pre-meeting started with a quick roundtable for participants to introduce themselves to the
group. Vince then introduced EPAN and his role in the group, as well as the reasons behind the
pre-meeting (which is a result of feedback from the last meeting in support of such a pre-meeting
to introduce EU policies to those less familiar with them, and to think about making use of
experience on ground to influence policies)

European Instruments: The Presidency Fund Toolkit

Vince presented a Presidency Fund project that his organisation was involved in (annex 1).

Background: The Barcelona process was assessed in 2005. The process includes many different
pillars that touch on human rights and social aspects, but the main focus is on trade. Two different
assessments came out: the governmental – that the process was on track, with just a few extra
efforts needed; and the non-governmental – that the process was off track, and not successful at
all. The Presidency Fund Project aimed to find reasons for the discrepancy between the two
evaluations. The issue is confused further by the fact that there is the ENP, Barcelona process and
now the proposed Union for the Mediterranean (UM).

There was a meeting in Italy to discuss what CS wants from the UM. It was agreed that the EU
was created for the free movement of people as well as goods. CS is cautiously optimistic about
the UM, as long as lessons are learned from the ENP and a union of equals is created.

The project tried to find a common language between CS and governments by identifying
indicators. Women‟s rights were highlighted as a consistent element. Strengthening fair trade also
came out as more important than free trade (example of farmers‟ incomes in NMS reducing since
enlargement). There is an assumption that the Mediterranean region will follow the same path that
Western Europe did generally – moving from small subsistence farming to industrialised
communities. This is being taken as a given but the CS consultations implied they were more
interested in seeking out niche markets.
The central issue is to look at what made the EU work and bring old enemies together, and how
something similar could work in the Mediterranean region.

Problems include the process being seen as Brussels-led and top-down, and high hopes that were
disappointed with a few people getting rich and others becoming ambivalent. With 2010 getting
closer, many issues remain unresolved such as environmental and social issues.

From field work to effective policy work: examples and experiences

Mirkka introduced herself and outlined the focus of her work. She asked the group about who was
involved in policy work and who focused on more practical aspects, and most members said both
aspects were involved in their work.

Mirkka then gave a powerpoint presentation on how practical project work can be used to influence
policy work (annex 2).

During the question and answer session, Mara explained about the spill-over effect of Finnish work
in this area on Latvia – MPs are visiting different countries to see what has happened in other
places and youth sections of political parties and young journalists are becoming active.

Vaestoliitto does not work with many volunteers but it is something that will be increased. The
organisation is funded 80% by an infertility clinic; the rest comes from other sources including a
slot machine association (which the EU does not like it as it is a monopoly, but it is a main source
of funding for lots of organisations).

Evaluating the effectiveness of the policy work is difficult - despite indicators and evaluations,
sometimes it is only possible to claim a contribution to work in a particular direction. The
organisation can monitor funds within ODA, but this is quite restricted.

Study tours are organised for MPs to other European countries, but also to Ethiopia for example,
where local partners are involved.

The information from the field is not always easy to get, because it has constraints of its own and
can involve thinking outside the box.

There are people who think these issues are not important at all, but it‟s a question of breaking
down issues into manageable parts. There is also the importance of reminding countries of their
commitments.

Malta was given as an example of a society with two realities – what the law says and what is
culturally acceptable.
23 April 2008 - EPAN meeting

The meeting started with a roundtable introduction of all the participants, followed by an overview
of the agenda.

Nordic-Baltic conference: Mirkka spoke about the Nordic Baltic conference, which brought
parliamentarians to Talinn in March/April to focus on HIV/AIDS, as the current situation in Estonia
is not ideal. 60 parliamentarians attended from 6 countries, to prepare for the next UN meeting on
the topic so that they can work together and speak with one voice.

ECAS/CNVOS conference: Tony presented the background and context of the ECAS conference
that was held in Ljubljana at the beginning of April under the Slovenian presidency – with a follow
up meeting in Croatia in September. This was the second in a series, which started in Brussels,
and was followed by a questionnaire, which resulted in country reports. The Slovenian conference
resulted in the Ljubljana Declaration (annex 3), which will now be used for lobbying work.

The discussion noted that the Pontis Foundation works closely with CS in Serbia, and although it‟s
time the EU recognized CS as a possible partner, there is a problem that CS has very little to say
in Serbia. It is true that CS in Serbia may not be representative of the region however. Macedonian
experiences are different. The event was important, and it was good for Slovenians to host the
event; as it was given political power. The importance of coalitions was underlined and recognizing
that to give someone a voice, they must have something to say. The Ljubljana declaration is being
circulated among the relevant players, but the difficulty is in the implementation; and pushing it at
different geographical levels.

EC DG Enlargement conference: There was a general discussion about the recent EC conference
on CS in Southeastern Europe, which underlined the importance of CS although the level of
consultation on the facility itself is questionable. Certain attendees said the conference lived up to
the low expectations, as it was oversubscribed and the EC was doing it for its own reasons. Others
complained that the conference involved too many topics nd too many diverse organisations. It
was a first step but they need more precise recommendations for them to be useful. Gradually the
feedback got more positive and it was noted that for organisations from Albania and Kosovo for
example, it is difficult to cooperate since they‟re fighting for funding, but they were able to use the
occasion to network.

SI presidency: Petra gave a brief presentation on behalf of the SI presidency as TRIALOG has
been supporting the SI presidency project for 18 months and she had just returned from Slovenia,
where she had been monitoring the project. It was very positive because at the beginning there
were isolated SI NGOs working in different areas but now they have come together to represent a
more cohesive group, which has built up a good level of cooperation and sees the benefits of a
platform. Last week Marjan received information that Bush will be in SI for a summit at the same
time and in the same place as the main DE conference that is part of the SI presidency project.
The venue has been changed but the timing will stay the same.

FR presidency: Louis spoke on behalf on FR presidency. There will be a focus on Europe‟s role in
the world and a debate on the future of Europe (annex 5). There are five main topics: Europe‟s
relations with Africa; agriculture and development; financing development; citizens of Europe and
international solidarity; and climate change and development. One of the main events is a seminar
in October on the future of Europe, which will bring in how the EU is perceived by NMS and non-
EU states. This will involve one representative from each national platform. An event in Strasbourg
will look at EU strategy in Africa and the second main event showcases the FR priority of the
Mediterranean partnership – a Euro-Med civil forum in the first week of October in Marseilles.
The other issue this will touch on is codevelopment and circular migration. The October conference
will look at a European pact on migration as well as ODA. The FR Foreign minister is very involved
in the Western Balkans so was identified as an advocacy target.

[Julie from the French Catholic Committee against Hunger and for Development (CCFD) also
wanted to inform the group about 2 different topics they will focus on related to Eastern and Central
Europe during the French Presidency : 1) a campaign for a European directive on Roma inclusion
and 2) a regional seminar on relations between the Western Balkans and the EU, especially on the
consequences of the readmission agreement.]

CZ Presidency: Ivana told the group about the CZ presidency plans, which will focus on aid
effectiveness. A concept note for the presidency project has been submitted to Brussels, with a
draft of actions. It was difficult to prepare as the deadline was very tight, but 270,000 Euros have
been requested. The full project will be submitted in June. The project foresees an international
conference on CSO aid effectiveness; a conference on DE; and seminars. The MFA and other
institutions consulted NGOs to coordinate the programme.

EPAN Case studies

The next session involved brainstorming sources of information for the case studies. Vince
presented the case studies concept note (annex 6) and explained the background to the case
studies, which will contribute to the ENPI midterm review.

Eurostep project: Marie then gave a powerpoint presentation (annex 7) on the project that she is
coordinating within Eurostep in 6 neighbouring countries (Georgia, Ukraine, Moldova, Morocco,
Egypt and Palestine), also to feed into the mid-term review. The project started in March in
Brussels, will continue with national workshops between June and September, and will finish with a
conference in Brussels in October/November, so that the recommendations can be drafted in time
for the review in 2009.

WWF project: Pauline followed by explaining WWF‟s involvement in lobbying work around the
ENPI regulation and current projects in the neighbourhood. One is called “Greening the Black Sea
synergy” and the second is on ENP Action Plan (AP) implementation (the handbook has been
developed with the Heinrich Boll Foundation and will be ready very soon for circulation).
Implementation of the APs differs greatly from country to country, and so the project developed a
list of questions with yes/no answers, which were then scored. CS reps in Georgia, Moldova,
Ukraine, Armenia and Azerbaijan will use the handbook to monitor the implementation of the APs
in their countries. Pauline explained how small NGOs were being supported in this project, and the
lack of traditional distinction between environment and development was noted.

A roundtable identified some partners in Egypt and Ukraine that could contribute to the information
gathering. The discussion made a start at identifying a second issue, but the main work on this was
saved for the working group session on the second day. Trade was discussed as a possible
second issue, but then it was argued that it would be better to focus on something that is not
mainstreamed as given as much attention as trade is. The other issue to take into consideration is
the particular area of specialisation of the organisations we would like to use in collecting the data.

The most striking issue is the difference between the official goals that have been identified, which
nobody would argue against; and the implementation, which is not living up to expectations.

EC budget review

Tanja gave some background information about the budget review consultation, and about the text
that she and Mark drafted. CONCORD inputs included an overall submission and the EPAN text.
The message was critical of the model of CS supported through IPA. From the CARDS situation,
the good news is that the partnership principle has been recognised, but the bad news is linked to
implementation – the ad hoc nature of consultations, which come late in the decision making
process.

ENPI and IPA programming docs involve the EC and governments, but strategic documents
should include all the people involved.

Transition

Vince gave an overview of the issues surrounding transition and why it was abandoned as a topic
within EPAN.

EPAN Steering Committee and Leadership

Vince explained that since Colombe, Florent and Mirkka have all left or will be leaving, and as
Valentin will not be representative of RO anymore we need more steering group members, and a
new Vice-chair to replace Mirkka.

Mark, Tanja, Wico and Kelly all joined the steering group

Tanja was made vice-chair.
24 April 2008 - EPAN Meeting

Civil Society in the Western Balkans

Tanja gave an overview of general CS trends in the Western Balkans. A publication from the
network (annex 5) has just been released, which uses Slovenia as a good example. Croatia is also
seen as good example within the region, and Bosnia has a strong base although the legal situation
is complicated. We heard an overview of the issues: the legal bases are generally there but
implementation is not as successful. Coalitions need to be built up and relations with institutions
developed. Traditional donors are withdrawing and the EU is taking over as most important donor.
The region has little tradition of CSR and philanthropy so expectations come from commitments
from the EC.

From the EU side, CS was supported through CARDS with the EIDHR and thematic lines. In 2005-
6, strengthening CS was mainstreamed, which made funding less accessible. IPA priorities reflect
those in CARDS and CS is once again a cross-cutting issue. The new facility for CS (technical
assistance, people to people, networking in particular issues) has been presented by the EC and
there are some other funds for networking and coalition building.

One CfP has been opened, targeted at media professionals called “Support for actions promoting a
better informed public debate about EU enlargement in the candidate and potential candidate
countries” (http://ec.europa.eu/enlargement/call_for_proposals/ipa_call_en.htm)

The partnership principle needs to be underlined and transition experiences of NMS can be helpful
for this. Loosening up criteria would ensure that CS can be properly involved. The locals are the
ones who should be involved.

Discussion to prepare questions for the EC session.

The group came up with some points that need clarification:

      Are there more concrete ways the partnership principle can be implemented?
      How is the EC making use of transition experiences from previous enlargements?
      How was the decision taken to divide up the IPA facility – was CS consulted?
      Why is it not possible to show initiative in proposing actions in the region?
      Could the eligibility criteria be loosened?
      How will the EC build capacity in local authorities and so on?
      How is global citizenship and development education taken into account? Transition and
       the example of the situation for farmers in NMS deteriorating since enlargement have
       implications for candidate countries and potential candidates.
      What is going to happen with regards to Kosovo? Many countries have not recognised the
       legitimacy of the country since it declared independence.
      What can be done about reducing levels of ODA and the lack of incentive now NMS are EU
       members?

EC session

Dr Heather Grabbe is political advisor to Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn. She gave an
overview of EU enlargement policy and then asked for specific questions from participants.

The eventual aim is for the countries in the enlargement policy to join the EU, but there are so
many issues involved – issues from conflicts in the Western Balkans and political conditions with
Turkey. Most processes will not be concluded under this Commission, but everything is leading to
a slow gradual integration into Europe. Priorities include visa facilitation and liberalisation and the
integration of civil services through training and twinning.

Questions

Kelly asked about the situation regarding Ukraine

Heather said that came under the remit of Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner, as external relations,
but that some countries have special „upgraded‟ relations with the EU including Ukraine. The aim is
to create a free trade area and develop closer economic ties. Membership of the EU is completely
open.

Milan asked how the EU reaches out to the public and about the situation regarding Serbia

Heather admitted that the EU has not always been very good at reaching out to the public, and that
they are taking action, such as increasing the number of scholarships available, facilitating
contacts between CS inside and outside EU borders and providing training to groups like
journalists. The Regional Cooperation Council (the Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe‟s
successor) includes public outreach.

Regarding Serbia, Heather said that domestic politics always interfere and that EU accession is
only for countries who want to join the EU. The EU only has carrots, not sticks, so it is up to those
within countries to push for EU membership. The EU supports CS, but it is designed to work with
governments. Having said all that, Heather reinforced the idea that Serbia is an important country
and that as common Serbs are still enthusiastic about EU membership, the links must be
maintained.

Ivana asked about Kosovo and when the proposed donor conference would be held.

Heather said that it was a difficult period, and that the conference should be held in June. The EC
is committed to making Kosovo work, and the fact that not all members have recognised Kosovo
should not pose a problem. The EULEX mission in Kosovo is being supported by all EU MS and
even if governments are not recognising the country, it should no affect NGO work in the country.

Tanja said that it is important to talk about regional cooperation between societies, and CS‟s role
within this. She asked whether the IPA facility to support the development of CS in the region
represents a change of strategy and whether CS was involved in the development of the facility
itself.

Heather said that IPA came in recently, so is still being finely tuned, but that CS is highlighted as a
priority. The focus is on poverty reduction, solving interethnic divisions and environmental
protection among others. IPA funds local initiatives and exchanges, as well as coalition building
and networking. She asked about the experience of working directly with the delegations and Tanja
gave her experience of consultations – lack of feedback, late in decision-making process and ad-
hoc in nature. The EC manages the first phase of funding infrastructure then the delegations take
over in partnership with governments. The aim of the new facility is to simplify the process.

Viktoria asked what carrot the EU had to offer once states had become members. She gave
examples of NMS not living up to ODA commitments, of unacceptable levels of corruption and
restricting freedoms like those of the press.

Heather emphasised how the question of where the EU can and cannot act is complicated and
how political commitments are required before joining, but that afterwards the corrective powers of
the EU are very limited. She gave the example of Italy and its situation regarding press freedom.
There is one article in the Treaty that makes it possible, if a MS breaks a fundamental rule, for the
issue to be taken to the Council, but it is difficult to use in practice and usually a bilateral
agreement is negotiated. The Lisbon Treaty will have a big impact on human rights.

Valerie asked another question about Kosovo, and whether the UN was going to remain very
visible.

Heather said that the official answer is that nobody knows what will happen, but that personally she
believes the UN wants to leave an escape its position squeezed between Russia and Serbia. The
UN will hand over to the EU, but the idea is for Kosovo to become truly independent.

Vince asked about lessons learned from enlargement, and how it affects future plans. He gave the
example of farmers in Romania and Malta in particular who are worse off now than before
accession.

Heather said that she believed most Maltese farmers were very happy indeed and that lessons
learned could be something NGOs could write a paper on, which would be useful for policy
makers.

The EU has learned that you have to build up institutions from the start, especially the judiciary
(examples of Bulgaria and Romania). Conclusions have to be built along the way, as there is no
acquis and common standards are so difficult to enforce (example of Turkey and the headscarf
issue). So lessons learned by the EU could include the importance of institution building; the
importance of an early start; the fact that although conditions should be used where possible, it is
important to accept that certain things cannot be changed. The final lesson learned is that the
journey towards EU membership is just as important as the destination (example of Estonia
wanting to join in 1993, but being made to wait until 2004 having positive effects on the country
overall).

EC session evaluation

The participants thought the session had been valuable because Heather had given a good
political overview and taken notes about points group members made. Comments included: it was
important for her to get information from us, but it was also a chance to get information from her; it
was more important to have political person as we could use the occasion for advocacy, which is
more useful than specific questions and answers; she was very smart and knowledgeable and
really seemed to listen; it was a good idea to invite someone and it should continue. The concerns
brought up by the participants were that she got more information than we did and she should not
be able to quote it as a consultation. Improvements that were suggested for the future included
sending the questions before; inviting one person from the political side and a second from
practical DG directorates; and having preparation time on the first day so we could fine tune the
questions (disagreement from some).

The group agreed that follow-up should be a thank you letter including the budget review text and
feedback from the conference.
Participants split into two subgroups – to work on ENPI and IPA

The groups worked individually and gave feedback to the rest of the group.

IPA feedback

   -   As the transition and IPA groups combined, Isabelle said she could research transition case
       studies in Cyprus if funding is available; there is also a CSCG study on NGO consultations
       on national and EU level
       (http://act4europe.horus.be/module/FileLib/Civil%20dialogue%2C%20making%20it%20wor
       k%20better.pdf).
   -   Tanja gave more information on the Balkan Civil Society Development Network‟s research
       project.
   -   Valerie gave information of a proposed mercycorps workshop project involving NGOs in
       Bosnia and Kosovo and policy makers from the EU and local authorities.
   -   The group discussed what should be included with the letter to Heather Grabbe (budget
       review text and EC conference feedback).
   -   Accessibility of NGOs to IPA funding is not clear so Rebecca and Tanja will draft a letter
       with basic questions asking people in the EC for clarification by 9 May. Depending on the
       answer that is given, we can also get the FDR group involved.
   -   Both responses from EC to lead the way for future group action.

ENPI feedback

   -   The group decided that once the case studies are finished it would be possible to look at
       transition as a group again, but for the moment the focus is on the case studies.
   -   Multilingualism letter sent and all other tasks ok.
   -   No need to keep to one issue as well as gender so the case studies will include as many
       areas as possible.
   -   There will be a questionnaire with two sections; one common to both countries and another
       specific to each, focusing on whether NGOs were involved in consultations and if not, why.
   -   There will be a one month timeline for drafting the questionnaire by email.
   -   The following 2 months will be used for collecting the information.
   -   Language issues are likely to come up so we need to see what financial support might be
       available from CONCORD.
   -   In September/October the information gathered will be put into a report and we need to find
       out about funding for a consultant.
   -   The whole group will receive the questionnaire to distribute among their partners.
   -   There is the possibility to attend Eurostep meetings and tap into the participants of that
       project.

Vince gave an overview of the issues related to the UM and what Tonino Perna was going to
cover, and gave some more information about the toolkit from the Presidency project, for those
who had not attended the pre-meeting.

The next meeting will be held in the Netherlands on 14 and 15 October 2008 (Croatia was also
suggested but CONCORD rules do not allow WG meetings to take place outside the EU).
Action Points:

    ENPI subgroup
        o Draft case study questionnaire as a group by email by end May.
    IPA subgroup
        o Distribute questionnaire from EC (annex 8) to partners asking for feedback on the
            DG Enlargement conference by 9 May.
        o Draft a letter asking EC for clarification regarding NGO access to IPA funding by 9
            May (Tanja and Rebecca).
    Entire group
        o Draft thank you letter (Rebecca), to be sent around the group for
            additions/comments and sent to Heather Grabbe with budget review text and
            feedback from EC conference (copied to people who were at the conference like
            Truszczysnki and Lobkowicz).
        o React to answers from EC regarding EC conference feedback and NGO access to
            IPA funding.
        o Distribute case study questionnaire among partners from the beginning of June with
            a deadline of the end of July for collecting the information.




        Annex 1: Presidency project toolkit

        Annex 2: From fieldwork to effective policy work (powerpoint presentation)

        Annex 3: Ljubljana Declaration

        Annex 4: Coordination Sud Presidency priorities

        Annex 5: BCSDN publication

        Annex 6: Case studies concept note

        Annex 7: Eurostep ENPI project (powerpoint presentation)

        Annex 8: EC conference evaluation questionnaire

				
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