CONCORD Director Seamus Jeffreson
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05/06/2014
Dear members,
As I’ve mentioned in several blogs so far, I feel there’s a need to increase our focus on the European neighbourhood and the role of civil society organisations in the so called ‘new EU member states’.

2014 marks the 10th anniversary since many Central and Eastern European countries joined the European Union.
I’m pleased to share with you some reflections from our members about their experiences since EU enlargement. Please find some reactions below from two of our members; Mara Simane, director of LAPAS, the Latvian NGDO platform between 2006 and 2012 and Marjan Huč, director of Sloga.
Marjan Huč, Director of Slovenian NGO platform SLOGA
 
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What did the EU enlargement in 2004 mean for (development) CSOs in your country?
Enlargement of the EU meant change of mentality (for many NGOs) from recipient country to a donor country perspective. This change strongly contributed to the development of NGDOs and their more focused involvement to different MDGs rooted topics.
What are the biggest changes that have taken place since 2004 in the development community in your country?
The biggest change was:
1. the establishment of a development system/structure, and the regular dialogue among those structures. Unfortunately this system, due to different external factors was not completely owned by all national actors.
2. Introducing different global dimensions to different parts of Slovenian society, promoting their global solidarity support and echoing critically active citizens participation.
3. NGDOs have become one among the institutionally recognised development actors through addressing common issues via platform SLOGA. NGDOs were not participating at the implementation level of development policy only, but have been systematically included into the policy planning, implementation and its evaluation.
What has the integration process to EU level advocacy and project work been like for CSOs from your country?
The integration process meant for Slovenian NGOs broadening their alliances for different aspects of development policy promotion and awareness raising.
What are the main lessons learned for development CSOs and your country more generally as young donors?
Slovenian NGDOs have walked a 10 years path, with lots of successes reached; they have proven to be able to implement development projects as part of the global development community; they have proven to be mature and experienced enough to be active in the most difficult global areas, where the most needed cooperation among CS is needed. Along with the current changes on the level of different EC and national programs, hopefully development policy will not change again to the “old boys club”.
Mara Simane, director of LAPAS, the Latvian NGDO platform
 
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Ten years after the historic enlargement of the EU to include ten new member states, Mara reflects on what has changed in the development community:
What did the EU enlargement in 2004 mean for development CSOs in your country?
Mara Simane: The EU enlargement in 2004 was a double edged sword. For Europe and the major donors, we had graduated from „transition school”, and were developed. Society and the government weren’t exactly ready to fulfill their supporting roles when the foreign donors dissipated. Latvia had no development CSOs in 2004. All of the work grew out of NGOs sharing experience about their “core business” with stakeholders in countries with lower development indicators.
What are the biggest changes that have taken place since 2004 in the development community in your country?
Mara Simane: Development cooperation policy began when we entered the EU. We concentrated on what we knew best – Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine and Belarus. 2008 was hot in Georgia; thankfully our CSOs had supported Georgians before the traumatic events. The biggest change? That there IS a development community and politicians have grown to accept that we can no longer only harp on our own problems.
What has the integration process to EU level advocacy and project work been like for CSOs from your country?
Mara Simane: LAPAS member organisations integrated easily into EU advocacy and project work thanks to the great people at TRIALOG and CONCORD, other countries’ platforms, and to friends in the NGOs thematic networks. The feedback from these joint activities formed the backbone for advocacy for development cooperation in Latvia. In retrospect we’ll really appreciate how significantly these kindred ties have contributed to a more unified EU approach to development.
What are the main lessons learned for development CSOs and your country more generally as young donors?
Mara Simane: NGOs exchanging knowledge about their „core business” with NGOs in recipient countries is the best form of development cooperation. For example, our 2008 Summer School for CSOs from Donetsk and Dnepropetrovsk in Eastern Ukraine forged reciprocity-based connections that modern propoganda machines are at a loss to influence.