Dear participants and colleagues engaged in the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum

The following news is to update you on the decisions of the Steering Committee of the Forum, including the finalisation of the Secretariat statutes and strategy concept in line with the decisions take at the annual Forum event held in Poznan on 28-30 November 2011.

All this news is available on the website, – as well as the newly launched call for applications to participate in the 2012 annual Forum event – which takes place in Sweden on 29-30 November 2012.

4th Civil Society Forum Annual Event to Be Held in Sweden, 29-30 November 2012 – call for participants to be launched second week of May
The Steering Committee of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum, working to increase the transparency and information flow throughout the work of the Forum, is publishing and sharing with Forum participants the decisions of the first two Steering Committee meetings of 2012, which took place on 26-27 January in Brussels, and 4-5 April in Baku, respectively.
Key decisions included registration of the Secretariat of the Forum, finalisation of the Strategy Concept of the Forum – both as decided by a vote of participants at the Poznan Forum in November 2011, the election of two co-Chairs, Igor Kohut and Jeff Lovitt, and the decision to hold the 4th annual Forum in Sweden on 29-30 November 2012.
Sub-groups of the Steering Committee will comprise: (a) country facilitators; (b) working group co-ordinators; (c) EU co-ordinators/communications group; (e) Sweden Forum event group. Sub-groups would consider a framework for development of guidelines and procedures for the work of the Forum and its constituent parts, building on the existing rules and procedures. CSF flagship initiatives would be another focus (flagship initiatives to include: elections; anti-corruption; media freedom; visa liberalisation; monitoring of bilateral agreements).
Submissions were to be formulated towards the consultation on the Eastern Partnership Roadmap, and to be encouraged from the national platforms, under preparation by the European Commission. The Steering Committee would focus on key external relations partners, including Euronest, and would submit two proposals – partners to be chosen through consultation with the national platforms – to the European Neighbourhood Civil Society Facility.
The procedures for selection of participants in the 2012 Forum annual event were finalised, pending approval of the European Commission, and the call for applications will be launched in the second week of May 2012.
Other scheduled CSF WG and intergovernmental platform meetings:
31 May 2012: Platform 2 intergovernmental meeting: Brussels
6 June 2012: WG1 CSF meeting: Brussels
7 June 2012: Platform 1 intergovernmental meeting: Brussels
18 June 2012: Platform 3 intergovernmental meeting: Brussels
21 June 2012: Platform 4 intergovernmental meeting: Brussels
9 July 2012: WG2 CSF meeting: Brussels
17-18 July 2012: EAP CSF Steering Committee meeting, Brussels

Strategy Concept and Secretariat statutes approved for Civil Society Forum
In line with the decisions taken at the Poznan Forum, on 26-27 January 2012, the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum Steering Committee finalised the Strategy Concept and the statutes for registration of the Secretariat of the Forum.
Strategy Concept
 The Strategy Concept (full document attached in English and Russian), sets out the mission, vision, core values and principles, and short- and medium-term objectives of the forum.
The mission is to facilitate and strengthen the active and expert engagement of civil society in the Eastern Partnership and in the Eastern dimension of EU external relations policies, and in participatory governance and accountable policymaking with regard to the democratic transition and European integration of the Eastern Partnership countries, including prospective EU membership.
The vision: The Forum operates as an independent, inclusive, transparent and sustainable actor in the dialogue with all stakeholders of the Eastern Partnership. The Forum and its constituent parts are recognised as representatives of civil society, and as a key stakeholder in EU policy development and implementation with regard to democratic transition in the Eastern Partner countries.
Short-term objectives (2012)
• Professionalisation of the Forum through establishment and legal registration of a co-ordinating Secretariat to support and guide the work of the Forum and build stakeholder relations with EU institutions and Partner country governments, securing of start-up funding, and preparation of a sustainable future funding model
• Strengthening of the national platforms as effective, well recognised civil society fora at the country level, and establishment of the national platforms as essential partners for all stakeholders in the Eastern Partnership
• Through continued lobbying further development of the new EU Neighbourhood Civil Society Facility to finance the capacity of civil society organisations, and support dialogue between civil society organisations and government
• Transformation of the Forum at the working group meetings and annual Forum into a dynamic, grassroots-driven hub of national and international initiatives to facilitate through civil society expertise and projects a more participatory policy-making and democratic transition in the Partner countries, and to bring about policy change to improve the quality of life of citizens of the Partner countries
• Recognition of the annual Forum event and working group meetings as leading, agenda-setting events on the civil society/EU policymaking calendar, and key networking events with other civil society organisations and stakeholders in EU-Eastern Partner relations
• Effecting policy change through provision of well-timed, constructive contributions to the Eastern Partnership intergovernmental platforms and expert panels
• More informed civil society organisations through dissemination to them of well-presented, up-to-date, essential information about developments in the Eastern Partnership through the website and electronic bulletins
• Strengthened activities of the sub-groups of the working groups, through support of the Secretariat and through work with EU stakeholders
• Increased participation of civil society actors to contribute to effective policy outcomes, and monitoring of implementation, in the fields of democratisation, human rights, social and economic development, and good governance, and to foster the engagement of independent civil society expertise in the work of the expert panels/thematic platforms
• Improved inclusion of independent democratic social partners in the Forum through launch of a Social Dialogue Working Group.
Medium-term objectives (2013-2014)
• Recognition of the Forum and its constituent parts as key representatives of civil society and as partners of the EU and the Partner countries in the democratic transition of the Partner countries
• Development as a partner with EU institutions and Partner country governments of a roadmap for democratic transition for the Partner countries, and for closer political and economic integration of the Partner countries with the EU
• Enhanced policy influence through establishment of an Advisory Council of political and think-tank figures who can strengthen the advocacy work and analytical depth of the Forum, in particular policy and strategic advice.
• Effecting policy reform through establishment of the sub-groups of the working groups and the national platforms as key drivers of civil society engagement and expertise in a locally driven, decentralised Forum
• Consolidation of professional support for the work of the Forum, and for building stakeholder relations with all relevant actors through securing of sustainable funding and office space for a Secretariat with the necessary staff
• Strengthened functioning of the national platforms through securing of sustainable funding and necessary resources
• Facilitation and demonstration of the essential contribution of civil society – at national and international level – to the process of strengthening political and economic ties between the EU and the Partner countries through co-ordination by the organs of the Forum and, where necessary, securing of funding by the Secretariat, for:
a. flagship projects monitoring democratic transition
b. sustaining permanent participant status at meetings of official intergovernmental platforms, thematic working groups, expert panels, and flagship initiatives
c. facilitating direct input and submission of written opinions and recommendations in the early stages of draft policy plans and priorities between the EU and the Partner countries, preparation of practical policy recommendations, and advocacy for them
d. evaluation and analysis to monitor progress in implementing commitments and agreements made between the EU and the Partner countries in the framework of the Eastern Partnership
• Facilitation via EU delegations of trilateral dialogue at the national level concerning bilateral agreements, including priority-setting in European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI) funding and review of financial perspectives, and prior access to draft plans and priorities that are subjects of the Action Plans and Association Agreements
• Securing of concrete policy changes in the EU and the Partner countries on key policy areas across the four thematic platforms, generating measurable improvements in the quality of life, democratic participation, and human rights in the six Partner countries.
Statutes of the Secretariat of the Forum
 A working group of the Steering Committee finalised the statutes for registration of the Secretariat of the Forum to ensure they reflected the decision of the Forum, and ensured that the governance of the legal body was such that the Board will always change upon the election of a new Steering Committee. The statutes were approved by the Steering Committee, subject to any amendments required under Belgian law, upon which the Secretariat of the Forum would be registered under Belgian law with the Steering Committee as the Board.
Following registration with Belgian authorities, at the end of April 2012 the registration was approved, and the Steering Committee will now proceed to put together plans for raising funds for the Secretariat to begin functioning – including an open call for a Director of the Secretariat once funding is in place. The Statutes are attached in English and Russian.