Civil society organisations (CSOs) are key actors in expressing the demands and needs of citizens and encouraging active citizenship. They need both, financial and non-financial support to continue their growth and contribution to building and fostering a democratic society.
There is no doubt that civil society is one of the most used concepts nowadays. It is often called the “third sector”. Wonder why? That is because civil society is seen as a driver of change, which has the power to hold public and private sectors to account for their commitments.
An empowered civil society is crucial to strengthen participatory democracies in the European accession process. Therefore, the European Union (EU) supports the development of a civil society through the Civil Society Facility (CSF). In the past 7 years, the EU allocated around €12.8 million to Montenegro under the CSF. It provided support to a range of sectors: civil society development and local democracy; social inclusion; good governance; media and freedom of expression; and environment and rural development. Furthermore, over half a million euros was invested for the establishment of the Resource Centre in Montenegro. Under the 2019 CSF is foreseen additional financial support for the continuation of its work. The 2020 CSF Action for Montenegro will enhance civil society participation in providing social services; and active citizenship participation in public policy process by promoting innovative targeting to most disadvantageous groups, particularly affected in the post Covid-19 situation.
Thanks to other EU-funded projects, CSO was able to raised awareness of peer violence in the country; increased the level of effective participation of civil society in scrutiny of public spending; and strengthened cooperation between CSOs and judicial institutions.
Civil society is essential in building an open, democratic and inclusive society. That is why the Civil Society Facility and Media Programme for Montenegro, for the period 2021-23, will focus on increasing capacities and effectiveness of Montenegrin CSOs to monitor and participate in reform processes, and to strengthen the overall capacities of less developed organizations and grassroots movements, through flexible financial support to third parties (FSTP) mechanisms in all fields relevant for the accession to the EU.
In short, the EU will continue to support the development of civil society and the genuine inclusion of CSOs in the policy-making process in Montenegro, which is very important on its path toward the full EU Membership.