2nd Civil Society Forum for the Southern Neighbourhood issues report from Forum held on May 28 to 29, 2015, Brussels

A report highlighting outcomes and issues addressed at the 2nd Civil Society Forum for the Southern Neighbourhood has been issued this week. The , gathered Civil Society organisations from the Southern Mediterranean and the EU, academic and think tank organisations and media and professional communicators from both sides of the Mediterranean.
The Forum was an opportunity to reinforce the commitment to making civil society an active partner in discussions on the EU’s relations with the Southern Neighbourhood. A key element was discussion on the review of the European Neighbourhood Policy, a topic addressed in several of the plenaries and in three working group sessions. The other working groups examined selected topics from 2014 meetings, identified by participants both as in need of action and suitable for a cooperative regional approach.
The main themes that emerged were:
· Need for greater understanding of the revised ENP and the actions it will encompass.
· Greater involvement of the south, across governments and civil society, in planning policy actions.
· Framing of north-south relationships as true partners, not as aid donor/recipient dressed with the title ‘partnership’ for political reasons.
· Positive reaction to being asked to contribute to the ENP review, accompanied by the plea that civil society input should be listened to and not discarded in favour of reaching accord with governments.
· Civil society needs a role not just in the review but also in implementing and monitoring consequent actions.
· The need to see EU policy reflecting a cohesive and coherent approach from Member States – not necessarily the case at the moment.
· Accepting that many of the key issues – economy and employment, migration and mobility, gender, youth unemployment, apathy and potential for radicalisation – are interlinked and need to be tackled in a way that sees such links.
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