Almost ten years have passed since the European Commission (EC) issued its Communication on the Participation of Non State Actors (NSAs) in EC Development Policy. Since then there have been radical changes in the political landscape affecting CSOs and the EU’s relation with them.
The involvement of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in EU external cooperation and development policy has a long history and has evolved substantially over time. The recent Structured Dialogue on the Involvement of CSOs and Local Authorities (LAs) in EC Development Cooperation1, held between March 2010 and May 2011, has played a major role in the development of the EU’s policy on external cooperation and development.
Additionally, in 2011, in response to the ‘Arab Spring,’ a joint Communication was issued, outlining a new response to the changing Neighbourhood and a commitment to building healthy democracies. The EU intends to further strengthen its support for CSOs in situations where governments engage in violations of human rights and democracy standards. A similar approach, applying to all regions, was presented in the Agenda for Change2, focusing on the importance of governance and sustainable growth. It calls for strengthened links between the EU, CSOs, social partners and LAs through regular dialogue.
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