In December 2022, we organised the first live event under the EU TACSO 3 project dedicated to Financial Support to Third Parties (FSTP).

This was a regional workshop that gathered 50 professionals from  CSOs and CSO networks from the WBT region who are implementing FSTP-related projects at the regional and multi-country levels.

At the FSTP Regional workshop, the publication titled: “Enhanced outreach to civil society organisations: A Collection of Good Practices of Financial Support to Third Parties in the Neighbourhood and Enlargement Countries” was presented by Ms Svetlana Djukic, an EU TACSO 3 Civil Society Expert.  Ms Djukic contributed to the development of this publication and supported the process of designing case studies from the region. Her presentation served as a forum for discussion during the parallel interactive sessions and case study presentations on the key issues faced by the CSOs in FSTP implementation.

The FSTP influenced the organisational changes and growth of all CSOs involved in its implementation. In the Plenary session of the FSTP Regional Workshop held in December 2022 in Belgrade under the title: “What has changed with the introduction of FSTP?” two contributors presented their experiences from the CSO practice: Mr Milorad Bjeletic, from the Belgrade Open School, an organisation that is implementing FSTP in Serbia since 2014 and Mr Tezcan Eralp Abay, from the Civil Society Development Centre (STGM), an organisation with 20 years of experience in the provision of capacity building services and grants to civil society organisations in Turkey.

This session explored the manner in which the FSTP influenced changes in the sector, changes at the policy level, as well as reshaping of the organisational capacities and roles in the sector.

Mr Milorad Bjeletic opened the plenary session with the Belgrade Open School (BOS) Case study – FSTP is a tool to enhance policy advocacy at the national and regional levels. FSTP as a modality is complementary to other activities and comes naturally as one of the instruments, as a part of large policy-driven projects, to achieve overall objectives in specific thematic areas. There are numerous benefits of this type of policy advocacy at the local level; strengthening dialogue with decision-makers and participation of civil society to attain the policies in the EU accession process and country reforms. FSTP is a tool to enhance outreach efforts, providing two-way communication, both the bottom-up and top-down endeavours, and bringing more comprehensive policy documents to launch an advocacy campaign.

With FSTP, the BOS benefits from different voices coming from the local level and has insight into what has changed in everyday life of citizens outside of the EU accession process. It is a great boost for capacity building of grassroots organisations for entering the policy arena, an incentive for learning, and exiting local horizons. You may find more information in his presentation available here.

Mr Tezcan Eralp Abay considers FSTP as an approach for different actors, for different contexts and for different levels. It is an important mechanism of the European Commission’s strategy to support local organisations at the grassroots level, as well as of the enlargement strategy for fulfilling pluralist democracy and the Copenhagen criteria.

In the Turkish landscape, FSTP is a remedy to keep some type of diversity and pluralism in the civil society sector. In a situation where massive funding is coming from public resources dominate the fields such as youth, women’s rights and education, the EU plays an important role in maintaining diversity in Turkey. Although not intentional, the FSTP is a type of strategic approach undertaken by the EC in the Turkish civil society landscape to support the more genuine civil society organisations, in particular, the rights-based organisations.