Jean Bossuyt, ECDPM report, 27-28 October 2003
In 2002 a new dialogue process was initiated between the EC, the European NGDOs (represented by CONCORD) and EU Member States on the future of the NGO co-financing line (also known as the Community budget line B7-6000). In 2003, the dialogue took the form a series of informal, brainstorming sessions (involving different EC units, the CONCORD and EU Member States) as well as expert meetings on specific topics (e.g. impact assessment). The EC prepared a series of position papers while CONCORD organised a broad-based consultation among its members. The Palermo seminar (27-28 October 2003) was seen as the culmination of this initial phase of the dialogue process.
The Palermo seminar clearly confirmed that reform of the NGO co-financing is a shared concern of all parties involved as well as a matter of urgency. Five main pressures were identified on the co-financing budget line :
– Its growing popularity, reflected in huge numbers of project applications that end up overloading the system and largely exceed stagnating budgets;
– New demands on the budget line (e.g. the integration of the civil societies from 10 new Member States);
– Lack of strategic focus and doubts about overall impact;
– Perceived need for greater complementarity with other EC policy instruments;
– The impact of EC reforms and procedures (e.g. the general application of Call for Proposals; stricter contractual rules; the ongoing deconcentration).