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International Partnerships

Civil society

Civil society organisations are crucial development partners as they are the closest to the populations on the ground and thus best placed to know their needs.

Over time, their role in development cooperation has grown from implementing partners to active partakers in decision-making processes of partner countries, who are increasingly taking ownership of their own development. This has led us to innovate and improve our dialogue with those actors.

Women with t-shirts
© European Union

What are civil society organisations?

Civil society organisations (CSOs) are independent actors, organised on a not-for-profit and voluntary basis, and active in different fields, such as poverty reduction, emergency aid, human rights, environment etc.

Contrary to local authorities (LAs), CSOs are completely independent from the State.

Our relations with civil society

Over time, the international community has progressively recognised the important development role of CSOs, and officially confirmed it in the Busan Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation in 2011.

This role was further emphasised in the first high-level meeting of the Global partnership for effective development cooperation, held in Mexico in April 2014.

In this context, on 15 July 2014, we adopted our Multi-annual indicative programme for the thematic programme ‘Civil society organisations and local authorities’ for the period 2014-2020, in which we defined 3 priorities:

  • Enhance CSOs’ contribution to governance and development processes
    In this optic, we financially support CSOs to reinforce their role as local governance and accountability actors, promoters of inclusive and sustainable growth, and social aid and welfare providers.
  • Reinforce regional and global networks of CSOs and associations of LAs
  • Develop and support education and awareness-raising initiatives
    Well-informed populations are more inclined to support development efforts.

EU institutions and civil society collaborate through a structured dialogue, thanks to the specific tools we set up over time to facilitate information sharing on aid implementation.

We have signed framework partnership agreements with several CSOs and LAs.

We also provide quality support to EU delegations across the world in their implementation efforts of our thematic programme ‘Civil society and local authorities’, for example to organise field missions, seminars and training courses, and to follow on interventions.

8 MARCH 2022
Multiannual Indicative Programme 2021-2027 for Civil Society Organisations – annex
16 DECEMBER 2021
Multiannual action plan 2021-2024 for the thematic programme Civil Society Organisations