CSOs and the EU Enlargement

Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) play a significant role in the European Enlargement process. They represent a partner and a contributor within the EU agenda and strong implementer of the key policies and strategies.

CSOs have several roles regarding the European Enlargement process towards the Western Balkans and Turkey, as in the following examples:

  • Grassroots level input in the process of formulating European Enlargement policies and strategies: CSO representatives can be asked for feedback on various policies, projects and issues, and can provide the European Commission (directly to Brussels) with concrete feedback on social and economic developments in the Western Balkans, unencumbered by political interests and much closer to the view of the citizens.
  • Promoting EU values: projects undertaken by CSOs can raise the awareness of the general population with such values and can emphasise the need to understand and accept them in order to become a member of the European Union.
  • Placing a human face on European Union policies and practices:  often EU policies and procedures might seem distant, bureaucratic and burdensome to the Citizens. CSOs can act as a conduit for explaining the administrative and procedural processes of the EU, therefore softening the potential negative impact.
  • Providing capacity building opportunities for governmental institutions on local and national level and other stakeholders to support the process of European Enlargement.
  • Stimulate governments on local and national level to promote EU accession benefits and to accelerate the Enlargement process. Furthermore, a well organised Civil Society can stimulate various governmental institutions to fulfil EU Enlargement obligations.

How can CSOs become more visible for civil society?

The work and efforts of CSOs can become more visible for civil society through :

  • communicating better publications and newsletters
  • organising CSO fairs on the regular basis
  • using media to influence local and national governments to work stronger with CSOs.

The  capacity  of CSOs needs  to be strengthened  in order  to play  this designated role. But,  in order  to do so local and national governments  in  the Western Balkans need  to engage CSOs early  in  the reform  process  and  include  CSO  experts  in  action  planning  and  decision  making
procedures.  This  will  increase  the  overall  engagement  of  civil  society  and ensure the participation of citizens in the process of European Enlargement.

Sources and useful links