Civil society in the EU-Neighbourhood
Strong civil society beyond the EU
The SAMARITAN INTERNATIONAL network brings together civil society organisations from the EU with civil society organisations from accession countries in the Western Balkans and the Eastern neighbourhood. Experience has shown that social policies are not sufficiently addressed during the preparations and negotiations of the EU membership process. Therefore, it is even more important and in the Union’s interest to strengthen and develop civil society beyond the EU borders.
SAM.I. member organisations from within and outside the EU have been successfully exchanging best practices and expertise both bi- and multilaterally in joint projects. In particular, our Ukrainian member SSU has been a focal point for aid deliveries and the implementation of projects on the ground. Civil society organisations play a major role in delivering social services in the Western Balkans and the Eastern Neighbourhood but struggle to receive adequate political and financial support.
Against the backdrop of wide-spread targeted use of disinformation to influence political processes and influence public opinion, it has become even more important to strengthen people-to-people contacts between EU citizens and those in the neighbouring countries. Cross-border civil society organisation ties create a unique potential to reach the population effectively, by exchanging best practices and delivering tangible bottom-up results. Successful cooperation at civil society level is thus a key element to continuously promote a pro-European stance within the population.
Especially in the light of the countries’ accession perspective, it is crucial to strengthen the support to cross-border civil society initiatives and networks, to increase the direct support to civil society organisations in the accession countries and to give social policies a higher priority during the preparation for EU accession.
SAM.I. calls for more support to further develop and strengthen civil society in the EU accession and neighbourhood countries, including pan-European networks and initiatives pursuing such objective.