The Civil Society Perspective – Country Report Belarus
This report offers the perspectives of Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum member organisations from Belarus on the future of the Eastern Partnership following its tenth anniversary year. It is one of a series of six country reports, with other editions covering Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.
The findings presented here are the result of a comprehensive process of internal consultation, conducted in October 2019 in order to inform the EaP CSF’s response to DG NEAR’s structured consultation on the Eastern Partnership beyond 2020. The report covers the following fields:
Economic and Human Capital Development: The results of the online survey of Belarusian organisations show the most urgent and effective measure through which the EU should support sustainable economic development in the EaP region is to foster a fair business environment free of nepotism, and businesses that are not closely linked to the government (44%). Regarding human capital development, two measures were selected by equally 22% as the most urgent and effective to further empower youth and address the economic challenges they are facing. Namely, strengthening the connection between education systems reform and labour market demands and investing in programmes favouring youth and social entrepreneurship.
Good Governance, Rule of Law, Security Cooperation: In Belarus, 56% of respondents of the survey think that the EU should strengthen the role of bona fide civil society organisations in policy formulation as a way to promote good governance and the rule of law reform in the EaP.
EU-EaP and Intra-EaP Cooperation: Ensuring Inclusiveness and Differentiation: 44% of respondents in Belarus consider the support of primarily intra-regional trade, culture and tourism exchange a priority in Intra-EaP cooperation.
Boosting EU Visibility in the EaP Region: The results of the online survey of Belarusian organisations suggest that the most urgent and effective measure that the EU should support to enhance its visibility in the EaP region is to increase the recognition of the EU through cultural figures in the fields of art and the promotion of EU values (33%).
Strengthening the Role of Civil Society: According to 39% of Belarusian respondents, the most effective measure to strengthen the role of civil society would be to enhance its role in EaP policy implementation, to improve the results and strengthen the local ownership of reforms.
Two other measures follow in second place. On the one hand, to enhance the role of the National Platforms of the EaP CSF as a third party in the EaP official documents and give them concrete implementation roles is seen as an effective measure by 22% of respondents to increase civil society’s involvement in the EaP policy. On the other hand, 22% of respondents consider establishing permanent working groups, involving civil society representatives and other non-governmental actors tasked with supporting implementation and monitoring of the cross-cutting deliverables as the most urgent and effective measure to increase civil society’s involvement.
The EaP CSF prepared its response to DG NEAR’s structured consultation on the future of the Eastern Partnership by launching a comprehensive process of internal consultation of its membership base. The internal consultation was based on three pillars: six in-country focus groups, four online focus groups and one online questionnaire combining qualitative and qualitative elements. Over 200 civil society organisations participated in at least one pillar of the consultation. The results presented below offer a detailed overview of the input received from Belarus. A total of 33 Belarusian civil society organisations participated in the consultation process (1 or more pillars): 19 organisations took part in the online survey, 12 took part in the in-country focus group and 2 in the online focus groups.