вторник, 29 декември 2009 г.

NGOs For an enlarged union

Summary of the Project
information, Training and Scholarship Programme (First Phase)
"NGOs For an enlarged union"

First phase of the programme "NGOs for Enlarged Europe" financially supported by Charles Stewart Mott Foundation has been launched at the end of 2001 and has been completed in spring 2003. Second phase of the programme "Looking Beyond Enlargement" has commenced in June 2003 and will run until the end of 2004. In this phase ECAS will focus on activities in Bulgaria, Romania and Slovenia. More attention will be also paid to the training on access and implementation of Structural Funds. Fore more information about the second phase of the programme, please see: The Information, Training and Scholarship Programme – Looking Beyond Enlargement. Following is the description of the first phase of the project Information, Training and Scholarship.

The programme has been developed by ECAS after several consultations with NGOs in EU future member states (Hungary, Poland, Estonia, Lithuania and Slovenia). Several weaknesses and constraints in the NGO community in their approach to the European Union, which at present threaten to reduce the effectiveness of NGOs' action at European level have been identified. The weaknesses could be summarised as a lack of knowledge about EU policies and legislation, which makes it difficult for NGOs to develop a European strategy and to access existing EU funds.
There is also a question of isolation within the NGO sector, as many organisations cannot benefit from the existence of effective European networks. Moreover, many NGOs suffer from very limited resources to improve their knowledge and competencies. They cannot afford consultancy fees for external expertise; therefore they need to develop this expertise within the NGO community itself. There is also a lack of confidence and of strategic approach towards EU fund seeking. There is a danger due to NGOs' perception that they are joining established Institutions and policies, which they cannot change. They may see the European Commission largely as a mere source of funding, and therefore lose all the value-added of contributing to shaping EU policies.

The main aim of the programme is to create a viable group of EU affairs specialists in the national NGO community. The information, training and scholarship programme will help them to overcome the weaknesses and prepare them for an EU membership by providing them with: 
  • Up-to-date and NGO-relevant information on the recent developments concerning EU policies, legislation and funding opportunities.  NGOs in the future EU member states need this type if information in order to put together a viable European strategy and to play an active role in the making of an open, democratic and enlarged Union.

  • Training based on a multi-disciplinary approach covering all types of NGO activity. The main aim of the training is to increase their capacity to absorb and manage the available funding, as well as carrying out advocacy work effectively. 

  • The possibility to spend some time in Brussels, in order to get familiar with EU Institutions directly on the spot – "modus operandi".

The programme is divided into three different parts:
1.      Information Programme
The main aim of the information programme is to share insights, from NGOs for NGOs into the workings of the EU; i.e. to select and interpret (from official documents) what is relevant to NGOs in a way which addresses their objectives and practical concerns. The website is a key item as it will provide the participants with updated information on the progress of the programme, which will be available directly on line. In addition, all reports and materials will be freely accessible to the NGOs, not just participants. The website will provide the following information and support: 
  • Briefings on EU policies and contacts;

  • Information on EU funding;

  • Relationship between NGOs and the European Institutions;

  • Help in finding partners;

  • Information on activities or services of interest to NGOs.

The centrepiece is the ECAS guide to EU funding for NGOs. Most internal EU funding programmes have opened up in anticipation of enlargement, the pre-accession funds are now running, and it will soon be possible for the NGOs to take parts as partners in the structural funds.. The ECAS' Guide is the first publication to tie in all the areas involved in EU funding for enlargement.
2.      The Training Program
The program has been designed to include both theoretical and practical training. It will start with a two-week in country training course followed by practical training for the NGO representatives participating in the study visits to Brussels. Participants should include both national and grass-root level NGOs from different geographical areas, active in different sectors.

The programme will be implemented with the support of local partner organisations in each candidate country. It consists of four 2-day workshops consisting of a combination of lectures, dialogue with experts and practical activity.

The four workshops include the following topics:

  • Structure – the EU decision-making process, the EU institutions, the role of outside organisations (NGOs), The relationship between the EU institutions and NGOs, etc.    

  •  Enlargement - All aspects of the enlargement process; the status of each participant's country in that process; the role of NGOs, etc.

  • Fundraising  - EU funding policies; funding opportunities for NGOs; the application process, the project cycle, etc.

  • Advocacy  - Advocacy's place in the EU; the techniques for greatest effect; the role of NGOs and umbrella organisations in the process; the role of ECAS.

Followed by:
  • Study Visit - The three-day study visits to Brussels provide participants with first hand knowledge of the European Institutions, and the decision making process.   

The programme for the study visit will include:
  • On-site visit and meetings in the Brussels-based Institutions (Commission, European Parliament, Council of Ministers).

  • Meeting between the full group and ECAS, to include presentations by representatives of the EU Institutions and European NGOs.

  • The Group will then split up into 3-4 smaller groups categorised by themes in order to visit specialised departments and European NGOs in which they have an interest. 

3.      The Scholarship Program
There is no actual substitute to seeing the EU institutions in action; therefore a longer stay in Brussels for one or more NGO representative for each candidate country should follow the study visit. A working period of at least three months would be desirable, given the complexity of EU affairs and the fact that the NGO contact person in Brussels would have a wide-ranging brief. The goal of the working period is for the NGO contact person to become a full-fledged expert and be identified in their home country as the person with the necessary contacts with Commission officials, MEPs, and NGO networks. 

The scholarship programme will include the use of an equipped rent-free office in Brussels. In addition it will also include assistance from ECAS and CAF with advice on contacts outside and inside Brussels (MEPs, EU institutions and NGOs to contact); information about EU funds, policies, and the decision-making process.

Who can take part in the Scholarship program?

The main qualification is not to be an expert on the European Union, but it is rather a question of being committed to the NGO sector at home. People who are motivated and have a clear objective can, with help, learn very quickly how to find their way around the EU. 2-3 years of experience from the sector at home is expected.

As scholars are expected to develop contacts, monitor funding opportunities for the NGO sector, do advocacy work, and get in touch with European umbrella groups, we expect them to be proactive, have a real sense of initiative and excellent communications skills (English, French being an advantage).

It would be the responsibility of the NGO community back home to establish specific tasks for the scholars in relation to the situation in the home country (negotiation and screening).

For latest information about the scholarship program please see


The national partner organisation(s).

a)  The partners are responsible of setting up a steering committee around the program which will represent the NGO sector (it should be as representative as possible of the national NGO sector). The steering committee will help the national partners in developing the information and training program and to adapt it to the needs of the NGO sector together with ECAS.

b)  The partners are responsible for all the logistical arrangements for the training program and the study visits. In particular, local organisations will be responsible for spreading and adapting the information to NGOs in the candidate countries, to assist in the selection of trainers, and to select participants together with the steering committee to the training and scholarship program in Brussels.

Euro Citizen Action Service (ECAS)

ECAS will have the overall responsibility to manage and co-ordinate the project from Brussels. Moreover, ECAS will be the main responsible partner for the contents and the structure of the training program (topics to be covered, material to be used, international trainers to be involved, etc).
Links to partner organizations in the future EU member states.

Civil Society Development Foundation (Nadace rozvoje obcanske spolecnosti), Prague, Czech Republic

Civil Society Development Foundation, Bucharest, Romania

Slovak Academic and Information Agency (SAIA), Bratislava, Slovakia
Slovene Centre for information service, co-operation and development of NGOs www.cnvos.si
European House

For external resources on Enlargement

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