Monday, October 16, 2006

10m EUR more for development education - A chance for NGOs from new EU member states

For the first time, the EC will allocate 10m EUR for development education and awareness raising activities in the new EU member states and Bulgaria/Romania. This is very good news. However it is often difficult for NGOs in the new member states to meet the EU's funding and eligibility criteria. Therefore, TRIALOG in cooperation with the European NGO Confederation CONCORD organised a "Development Education Partnership Fair" in Vienna from October 9-11, 2006. Nearly 200 NGOs from all parts of the EU came together to exchange experiences, find partners for their project ideas, and elaborate concrete project proposals.

There is little public awareness about the concerns of developing countries in the new EU member states and the accession countries. Engagement in worldwide poverty reduction is low since it is a relatively new field of activity. "For the first time the EU is actively responding to this situation. We have to use this opportunity of additional money for raising awareness on development issues in the enlarged EU" said Christine Bedoya, Director of TRIALOG, who had the main responsibility for the "Development Education Partnership Fair" in Vienna. The TRIALOG project has been supporting development NGOs in new EU and accession countries since 2000.

The participants of the event developed project ideas in various fields such as: development cooperation in school curricula, informal development education targeting youth, sustainable tourism, fair trade, HIV/Aids, volunteering, migration and development etc.

Almudena Morante from the European Commission presented first results of the NGO co-financing Call for Proposals in Development Education from last year. While in 2004 no single NGO from a new member state received a contract as applicant, two projects were successful in 2005: one from Slovenia and one from Czech Republic. Still a disappointing number when comparing with the number of 36 projects which were awarded to old member states NGOs.

This year's Call for Proposals is expected to be launched end of October/beginning of November. The increase of 10m EUR in the development education budget line is the result of joint European lobby actions. The EC also announced to slightly improve the general conditions for NGOs from new EU member states.

"So far it was more or less always the same NGOs which put in proposals in Brussels. It would be very useful to involve new stakeholders", stated Helmuth Hartmeyer, representative from the Austrian Development Agency and member in the Co-financing Committee. Let's hope that the efforts taken now will deliver measurable results in future - in terms of a higher number of new member states proposals that pass the EC selection process.

Source: Trialog

See also euforic civil society dossier.