PASOS director presents civil society plan to EU foreign ministers
News Source: PASOS Secretariat, Czech Republic
A set of proposals to strengthen public participation and civil society engagement in the policymaking process in the Eastern Partnership countries was presented to a meeting in Prague of EU foreign ministers (Visegrad Four and Baltic states) by PASOS Executive Director Jeff Lovitt, together with Eduard Mihalas of the National Youth Council of Moldova.
Lovitt, one of the co-Chairs of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum, presented the Forum’s input into the Eastern Partnership roadmap, due to be published by the European Commission on 25 April 2012.
The meeting, hosted at the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs, was attended by Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy,and Štefan Füle, European Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy. Recommendations resulting from the meeting of the Forum’s Working Group 4 – Contacts Between People – held in Prague on 2 March 2012 – were presented to the meeting by Eduard Mihalas, the working group co-ordinator. The meeting with the two civil society representatives was followed by a meeting of the EU ministers with foreign ministers and deputy foreign ministers of five of the six Eastern Partnership countries.
Jeff Lovitt stressed that “the opening up of the policymaking process and strengthening contacts between people will be beneficial to relations with all the partner countries, regardless of democratic shortcomings, and this should extend to eliminating visa fees for all citizens of the six Eastern Partnership countries”.
He also offered support to the initiative launched in 2011 under the Polish EU Council Presidency to establish the European Endowment for Democracy, and emphasised the need for civil society actors to take up the role of independent watchdogs, monitoring and evaluating the effective use of government resources, and observance and strengthening of democratic reforms, human rights, and the rule of law in the Eastern Partnership countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Republic of Moldova, and Ukraine).
Clear Benchmarks and Independent Monitoring Should Shape Future EU Support to Partner Governments and Civil Society Actors: Proposals of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum Steering Committee to the Roadmap for the Eastern Partnership