This comprehensive report evaluates the implementation of the revised DG NEAR Guidelines and provides valuable insights into the progress, challenges, and opportunities for empowering civil society in the region.

The assessment report focuses on three fundamental objectives outlined in the Guidelines: creating a conducive environment for civil society, strengthening cooperation between CSOs and public institutions, and enhancing the capacity and resilience of CSOs. These objectives are critical to fostering participatory democracies and facilitating the EU approximation and integration processes in the region.

Covering seven countries—Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia, and Türkiye—the report offers a wide geographical scope, providing a comprehensive understanding of the region’s democratic progress.

The assessment report uncovers a mixed record of implementation across the region. While legal frameworks related to the civic environment generally scored well, their practical implementation revealed significant gaps. The report emphasizes the urgent need to improve cooperation between authorities and civil society as a key area for development.

Furthermore, the capacity and resilience of CSOs varied across different aspects. While organizational learning and stakeholder consultation showed higher scores, areas such as organizational accountability and transparency indicated room for improvement. Enhancing CSO capacity is crucial to establishing their credibility and productivity as vital actors in society.

The release of this first assessment report is a significant milestone in empowering civil society in the enlargement region. It provides valuable insights for EU, CSOs, and policy-makers, enabling evidence-based decision-making and fostering dialogue on advancing participatory democracies.

As we progress towards stronger democracies, the report calls for continued efforts to create an enabling environment and enhance cooperation and capacity building of CSOs.