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Accession to the European Union is a key political objective for the Western Balkans and Turkey. This requires the negotiation and ratification of an Accession Treaty. However, the Treaty itself is not enough to make accession a success. As part of the process, candidate countries go through an often complex transformation to bring them in line with basic values regarding democracy, human rights and the rule of law shared by existing Member States. New legislation and principles have to be agreed, implemented and monitored effectively in order to advance towards EU accession. The role of civil society in giving citizens a voice and holding governments to account in this process is crucial.
It is for this purpose the European Commission, DG Enlargement, has created the Civil Society Facility (hereafter referred to as “CSF”) to assist Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), i.e. all not-for-profit, non-market and non-state organisations and structures in which people organise to pursue shared objectives and ideals performing this role.
The CSF offers the opportunity to help meet the needs of the region by providing support to civil society development and dialogue. This is coordinated and streamlined by focusing on different areas of intervention such as civic initiatives and capacity building at a national level, “People 2 People” visitor projects as well as activities carried out in multilateral partnerships between CSOs both in the Western Balkans and Turkey and in the EU. It is intended that these should lead to a transfer of knowledge, the establishment of new networks, as well as innovative trans-national projects. Under the CSF the EC has also established offices to provice Technical Assistance to CSOs (TACSO) in the Western Balkans and Turkey.
The purpose of the 2012 open call for proposals 'Support to regional thematic networks - Framework Partnership Agreements and associated Implementation Grants' is to achieve: 'A more dynamic civil society actively participating in public debate on democracy, human rights, social inclusion and the rule of law and with capacity to influence policy and decision making processes.'
As a result of this call for proposals the European Commission will enter into partnership with regional networks of CSOs to pursue shared objectives regarding good governance and the fulfilment of the political criteria for EU accession. The partnerships will strengthen CSO dialogue and the development of knowledge and experience. By bringing together representatives from different organisations in the Western Balkans, Turkey and EU, the programme will enhance CSO cooperation and understanding beyond regional and national levels.
The activities to be implemented by these Framework Partnerships should lead to the following results:
1) Strengthened capacity and efforts to provide analysis, advocacy and monitoring of key sector reforms at regional and national levels
2) Improvement of the environment for civil activism and state-civil society dialogue at regional and national levels
3) Improvement of the legitimacy, transparency and accountability of CSOs in the region
 The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) defines CSOs as "all organisational structures whose members have objectives and responsibilities that are of general interest and who act as mediators between the public authorities and citizens." This includes all not-for-profit Non-governmental Organisations (NGOs), community-based organisations, faith-based organisations, professional and business associations, employer's organisations, trades unions, associations of local self-government, foundations, independent research institutes, the not-for profit media, charities, Red Cross and Red Crescent societies.
Mother Teresa: It is not how much we do, but how much love we put in the doing. It is not how much we give, but how much love we put in the giving.