40 young civil society activists from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine, selected for the EU-funded Eastern Partnership Civil Society Fellowship Initiative, meet in Brussels on 2-3 July 2018 for the Relay Event to relay a symbolic torch of their experience to their peers, learn about new opportunities of better contributing to reforms in their countries, and raise awareness of local civic activism as a major vehicle of needed changes in the life of their communities.
Mr. Lawrence Meredith, Director for Neighbourhood East, DG Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations (DG NEAR), European Commission welcomed participants and presented the fellowship completion certificates to the first round of Fellows selected in 2017. Mr. Lawrence Meredith underscored the unwavering commitment of the EU to support the development of stronger civil societies in the EaP countries: “The EU wants to deliver positive changes to ordinary citizens and injecting some dynamics into the EaP region. It seeks to provide its support in the most transparent and efficient manner possible. Local civil society in general and the EaP Civil Society Fellows are crucial in this respect and we would hope that you can act as true ambassadors of EU values and EU agenda in the EaP region.”
The EaP Civil Society Fellows also got a unique opportunity to meet representatives of several European Commission’s Directorates General to learn about their activities and the existing opportunities for citizens and youth of the EaP region, as well as to exchange on a wide range of matters, including education and youth, digital innovation and transport, media and tackling disinformation. These discussions allowed young leaders from the six Eastern Partnership countries to reflect on the most pressing issues their countries are facing and get a grasp of EU policy making in action.
The Relay Event is a part of the EU-funded project Eastern Partnership Civil Society Facility – Regional Actions aiming to strengthen and promote civil society’s role in reforms and democratic changes in the Eastern Partnership countries. One of the project components is the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Fellowship Initiative, a selective leadership programme for young leaders, combining traditional capacity-building activities with more practical exercises aimed at assisting fellows in the development and final implementation of their own project contributing to improving the life of their communities.
In line with “20 Deliverables for 2020”, the EaP Civil Society Fellowship Initiative is built around annual calls for applications with new ideas of positive changes in community life and leadership skills development from qualified civil society activists in EaP partner countries. Each call concludes with the selection of the 20 best applications from EaP countries whose authors receive fellowships to bring their initial concepts to fruition. 40 Fellows were already selected in 2017-2018; the total number of fellows should double by the end of 2020.
The Eastern Partnership Civil Society Facility – Regional Actions is an EU-funded Project working with the six EaP countries to promote the role of civil society actors in reforms taking place in their countries. The Project covers several components, including e-learning, development of digital solutions to improve the public sector’s transparency and accountability, and strengthening cooperation and networking among civil societies throughout the region. The Project is funded by the European Union and implemented by a consortium led by GDSI Limited (Ireland). For more information about the Project please visit: www.eapcivilsociety.eu or www.facebook.com/EaPCivilSociety/