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EU & Southern

Relationship Between EU and Southern Neighborhood

The EU is committed to strengthening its relationships with neighbouring countries in the Southern Neighbourhood of the Mediterranean basin, which includes the Arab Mashreq and Maghreb regions. It does so through many dedicated networks, commissions, and delegations such as Med Dialogue for Rights and Equality and Majalat programmes with a focus on development support, common issues and goals, and sustainable cooperation. It also supports reform and democratic consolidation, and strengthens the prosperity, stability and security around Europe and its neighbors through the Directorate-General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations (DG NEAR). Through its European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP), which has been revised in November 2015, the EU works with its Southern and Eastern Neighbours to foster stabilisation, security and resilience. recognising the different aspirations of each country, joint ownership, based on both partners’ needs and EU interests, and more flexibility in the use of EU instruments (the financial arm of the European Neighbourhood Policy).

A Stable EU Neighbourhood

The ENP’s main objective is to build more effective partnerships towards a stable EU Neighbourhood, in political, socio-economic and security terms, and strengthening the resilience and efficiency of neighbour states and civil society organisations. It implements projects through a tailor-made approach, taking each country’s individual needs and wider reflection on the region into account. It focuses its efforts on good governance, the rule of law and protection of human rights; economic growth, including wider access for neighbouring countries to the EU market; peace and security; environmental sustainability, intercultural understanding and migration and mobility.

Regional and Sub-regional Facilitation

To that effect, the EU established the ENI as the core funding source that facilitates the ENP’s ventures and turns decisions taken on the political level into tangible actions. The instrument supports civil society by promoting a cross-border culture of open dialogue, equality and democracy and enhancing cooperation and mobility as well as connecting people. It also encourages environmental sustainability and empowers CSOs through Neighbourhood and regional collaboration. In addition, through ENP’s programmes and networks such as Majalat, CSF South, Cross-Border Cooperation (CBC), Med Dialogue and the Civil Society Forum, the EU provides assistance to the civil society in the form of bilateral and multilateral programmes which address problems common to all or a number of involved neighbour countries, and which affect the future of the region as a whole. This assistance is implemented through various actions, such as organising trainings, seminars and safe spaces for CSOs to meet and facilitating information sharing through online platforms, resources and technical trainings on evidence collection, analysis and monitoring of public administration activities. On the sub-regional and regional level; the EU supports North-South exchanges and network-building, and encourages CSOs to collaborate on issues of common interest. It also holds regional workshops to support joint ventures between CSOs and local, national, and regional authorities.

Strengthening CSOs’ Capacity: Regional Programmes

The EU is committed to the promotion of human rights principles and fundamental freedoms in the EU and neighboring countries. It has implemented a number of core programmes in the Southern Neighborhood to strengthen the capacity of CSOs and support them financially and non-financially to promote and defend accountability, rule of law, media freedom, ending violence against women and sustainability among other human rights.

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Med Dialogue

The Med Dialogue for Rights and Equality Programme is an ENP/ENI regional programme funded and managed by DG NEAR. It was created in accordance with several EU resolutions and commitments to empower civil society organisations and their ability to influence policy-making in the region. It provides direct support through capacity building activities, dialogue platforms, and facilitating efficient networks and connections between CSOs. The Programme honors the ENI’s targets by helping CSOs explore new methods of action, such as digital advocacy, collaborating within regional common action frameworks, open source e-library, and open platforms for debate and networking, in addition to giving precedence to increasing women and youth’s prospects and participation in civil society.

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Majalat (2019 – 2022) is a regional initiative financially supported by the European Commission (DG NEAR). The consortium managing the project is composed of six regional civil society networks: Arab NGO Network for Development (ANND), Arab Trade Union Confederation (ATUC), EuroMed Network France (REF), EuroMed Rights, Forum for Alternatives Morocco (FMAS), and SOLIDAR.   The objective of Majalat is to create and promote a space of encounter and constructive dialogue between the civil society of the South of the Mediterranean and the European Union (EU). To achieve that, Majalat holds annual meetings at national, regional and European levels, as well as virtual tools and spaces on key themes for the Euro-Mediterranean region.

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CSF-South (2013-2018) was announced In the joint Communication on “A new response to a changing Neighbourhood” on 25 May 2011, to provide funding for civil society actors in the neighbourhood partner countries with the objectives of strengthening civil society’s capacity to promote human rights and monitor reforms. The CSF-South reflects the EU’s recognition of the importance of dialogue with Civil society in the Southern Neighbourhood and the crucial role played by CSOs. It contributed to facilitating structured dialogue between CSOs and public institutions and to building innovative networks and enhancing the cooperation between the EU and its partners from the Mediterranean region, as well as promoting dialogue between actors on a regional level.

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Med Culture

Med Culture (2014-2018) is a 5-year regional programme funded by the European Union to accompany partner countries in the south of the Mediterranean in the development and improvement of cultural policies and practices related to the culture sector. The approach was consultative/participative and took place in partnership with civil society actors, ministries, private and public institutions involved in culture as well as other related sectors. Med Culture curated the design and implementation of priority-based actions identified through wide consultations both with national authorities, civil society actors, as well as International organisations, and regional EU-funded programmes.

Civil Society Organisations and Local Authorities (CSOs LA) programme (2014-2020)

The CSO-LA programme has been adopted as a follow-up programme to the NSA/LA programme (Non-State Actors and Local Authorities in Development) which was introduced in 2007 as an “actor-oriented” programme aiming at strengthening the Non-State Actors and local authorities as a pre-condition for a more equitable, open and democratic society. The global objective is to strengthen civil society organisations and local authorities, acknowledging that governance and sustainable and inclusive growth are deeply intertwined and mutually reinforcing. Accordingly, the programme pursued the objective of improving governance and accountability by empowering citizens and facilitating the structuring and the expression of their collective demands to tackle social and economic issues. See also: CSO-LA Multi-Annual Action Programme 2015-2016-2017 Consultation

EU roadmaps for engagement with civil society at country level

Conceived as a joint initiative between the European Union and its Member States, Roadmaps at country level aimed at strengthening the strategic engagement with civil society were elaborated as of 2014 worldwide, including in the EU Southern Neighbourhood. Taking into account the views of local civil society, the purpose of the Roadmaps is to develop a common strategic framework for the engagement of EU Delegations and Member States with civil society at country level, with a view to improving the impact, predictability and visibility of EU actions. Roadmaps are also intended to improve the consistency of EU cooperation vis-à-vis civil society, across sectors and instruments. The EU and its Member States will also ensure that the Roadmap process becomes naturally embedded in EU programming and policies and that it is linked to other relevant processes at country level. See also: EU Country Roadmaps for Engagement with Civil society Strengthening brochure

Read more about relevant EU communications, strategies, and instruments that include support to the civil society

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