24 Jan 2014

The Civil Society Forum of the Eastern Partnership four years on: Progress, challenges and prospects

Hrant Kostanyan

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Established in 2009, during the Eastern Partnership Summit in Prague, the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum supports the development of civil society organisations from the EU-28 and the six Partnership countries, namely Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. After four years of operation, the Secretariat of the Forum’s Steering Committee commissioned CEPS to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of its programme. This report singles out the institutionalisation and socialisation inculcated among its members as the Forum’s greatest accomplishment. In contrast to its internal developments, it argues that the external policy successes of the Forum remain modest. This report is the first attempt to conduct an in-depth assessment of the Forum's Annual Assembly, the Steering Committee and its Secretariat, the Working Groups and National Platforms. Ten actionable recommendations are put forward aimed at improving the Civil Society Forum’s standing and performance.

This study was initiated by the Secretariat of the Steering Committee of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum and funded by the European Union and the Swedish International Cooperation Development Agency. The author, Hrant Kostanyan, is an Associate Research Fellow at Centre for European Policy Studies, Foreign Policy unit and a Research Fellow of the Special Research Fund at the Centre for EU Studies of the Department of Political Science, Ghent University.