Europeanisation meets democracy from below: The Western Balkans on the search for new European and democratic Momentum (WB2EU)

A missed opportunity? Civil society organisations in Greece and North Macedonia after the 2015 refugee crisis, Nikolaos Tzifakis & Anastasios Valvis, ÖGfE Policy Brief, 16’2023

When the 2015 refugee crisis broke out, civil societies in Greece and North Macedonia were featuring similar structural weaknesses, such as a lack of professionalism and weak organisational capabilities. In both countries, civil society organisations have benefitted since then from the availability of funding and the interaction and collaboration with international non-profits and donors. Yet, they have failed so far to capitalise on these developments in order to substantially enhance their resilience and sustainability. Nevertheless, prospects for cooperation and joint endeavours do exist and should be investigated further in the future.

Policy Recommendations*

  1. The EU should increase the funds in support of the resilience of civil society organisations (e.g., core expenses) and earmark funds exclusively for their capacity building.
  2. Civil society organisations from the two countries should invest in the growth of their human resources, and establish more links with international civil society organisations and transnational advocacy networks.
  3. Civil society organisations should consider the formation of a platform where non-profits from the two countries may exchange ideas and best practises (e.g., know-how on grants from philanthropic foundations), and explore the possibility of formalising agreements for volunteer and staff exchanges.

* We would like to thank Asteris Huliaras and Sotiris Petropoulos for their insightful comments and suggestions on a previous version of the paper.

Support transnational civil society links and exchanges between Greek and North Macedonian CSOs to encourage the multiplication of collaboration initiatives among the two sides.

The Policy Brief is published in the framework of the WB2EU project. The project aims at the establishment of a network of renowned think-tanks, do-tanks, universities, higher education institutes and policy centres from the Western Balkans, neighbouring countries and EU member states that will be most decisive for the enlargement process and Europeanisation of the region in the upcoming years. The WB2EU project is co-funded by the European Commission under its Erasmus+ Jean Monnet programme. The European Commission support for the production of this publication does not constitute an endorsement of the contents which reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

Photo: drazenphoto / Envato

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