This report summarizes the work of the Brussels Civil Society Forum, which was held on 2-3 December 2019. As part of the structured regional dialogue between the European Union (EU) and civil society in the southern Mediterranean region, about 180 representatives of civil society organizations (CSOs), mainly from the southern shore of the region, and 30 representatives of the European Commission participated.
The Forum was the second since the EU handed over the organization of the dialogue process to civil society organizations (CSOs) in early 2008. Prior to this annual Forum, a cycle of national and regional workshops and seminars had been organized in order to discuss and identify a certain number of recommendations that need to be included in the dialogue with the EU, relating to the five priority themes of Majalat: “Good governance and the rule of law”, “Security and the counter violence effort”, “Migration and mobility”, “Economic development and social dialogue”, and “social and climate justice”.
In reflection of the rich debates that took place during the Forum, this report summarizes the opinions exchanged and the key points of the recommendations in relation to the concerns of civil society regarding the southern neighborhood of the EU in 2019. These exchanges would help expand the scope of the cycle of work Majalat 2020 and will contribute to deepening the dialogue between civil society and the EU.
The Brussels Civil Society Forum took place in a context where the European Commission is negotiating and finalizing a new multiannual financial framework (MFF) which merges a series of financial instruments separated into one large single instrument: the neighborhood, development and international cooperation (NDICI).
NDICI was therefore an important subject addressed by the Forum, with questions not only on how to ensure transparency and accountability in the management of the MFF; but also on how to ensure broad and open consultations with civil society in the final stages of the MFF negotiations as well as during its implementation starting 2021.
The 50-page report concludes with the need expressed by Forum stakeholders to strengthen structured dialogue, ensure effective follow-up on common commitments and support the process under way.