civil society

EU Support to Civil Society


EU support to civil society in Turkey is an important priority of financial assistance to Turkey. Civil society organisations (CSOs) play a critical role in supporting the EU accession process. A dynamic civil society can contribute to a more open, participatory and democratic society by giving everyone a voice in Turkey's EU accession. Civil society also indicates pluralism, which implies respect for fundamental rights, rule of law and the possibility of social and political change.

CSOs work with the EU on a broad range of issues. Some projects focus on strengthening the capacity of the government to collaborate with civil society, whereas others support partnerships with CSOs in the EU. Through the Civil Society Dialogue the EU works with CSOs to create community-led plans for energy, agriculture, and education. Some CSOs address a range of human rights issues, including gender, cultural rights, and religious diversity, thanks to funds by the EIDHR. Several carry out a combination of this work, whereas others focus exclusively on a single area.

The EU and civil society in Turkey use numerous strategies to achieve results. Public sector programmes improve civil society–public cooperation and strengthen freedom of association. CSOs and the EU work together to increase the capacity of civil society and promote an enabling environment for participation in policy processes, such as with Sivil Düşün, TACSO and STGM. Certain actions focus on strengthening human rights of disadvantaged groups and others respond to humanitarian crises.

Guiding principles for EU support to civil society

The EU recognises the following guiding principles for support to civil society in Turkey in the period 2014–2020, with the Indicative Strategy Paper for Turkey as a principle reference:

1. Improvement of the environment for active citizenship. The EU encourages the full effective enjoyment of freedom of expression, peaceful assembly, and association. It supports public authorities in strengthening their technical knowledge and best practices in financial regulation for CSOs and contributes to the creation of dialogue mechanisms for civil participation.

2. Promoting a culture of fundamental rights and dialogue. The EU supports trust-building and strengthens cooperation between the public sector (at local, regional, and national level) and CSOs. It actively pursues effective CSO consultation in policy-making and governance by establishing transparent mechanisms.

3. Strengthening the capacity of organised active citizens. Capacity-building improves the outreach, governance, and institutional capacities of CSOs, such as advocacy, organisational management, and fundraising skills.

4. Enhancing dialogue and intercultural exchange between civil societies in Turkey and Europe. The EU connects people to improve mutual understanding between citizens in Turkey and the EU, including encouraging exchanges at the local level.