The CONCORD Working Group (WG) on Enlargement, Pre-Accession and Neighborhood issues (EPAN) met on its annual meeting in Brussles on 11th and 12th April. EPAN brings together representatives from across Europe. Long-established organizations from EU member states, newer member states and candidate countries are all represented within the group, which is convened by TRIALOG, a project to reinforcing the role of development NGOs in the enlarged EU. This working group represents an excellent platform of information exchange from NGOs working in the IPA region as well as those dealing with the Mediterranean and the Eastern Partnership countries. BCSDN is in regular attendance and participates actively to its IPA sub-group focusing on promoting the views of local civil society in the EU integration process.
At the meeting, the Group actively discussed the recent developments in the southern neighborhood countries. It has been brought to attention that the events in Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region will have reflection in the European Neighborhood Policy, mostly trough introducing civil society support mechanisms based on the model of IPA Civil Society Facility (CSF). The EC is currently planning of devoting 50 millions EUR for the instrument similar to the one in IPA countries. BCSDN has pointed out that unlike in the IPA CSF, local actors from these countries have to be actively involved in the design of this new instrument from the beginning and was asked to share its position on the CSF. The WG is preparing 3 position papers, one for each region with messages for a better support to civil society that will be launched with the EU communication concerning the European Neighborhood Policy.