Civil Society Development

Civil Society Development

Why supporting civil society?

For the EU, the commitment to effective pluralism requires the respect for human rights, the rule of law and the possibility for democratic change. Civil Society activities contribute to a more open, participatory and more dynamic democratic society, enriching the political agenda and the public debate. Therefore, the EU encourages the active participation of citizens in the making of collective choices in Turkey, from agenda-setting for policies and legislation, to implementation and monitoring at local, regional, national, European and other levels. Moreover, a more dynamic civil society can contribute to the accession process becoming more than just a technical process between the candidate country and the EU and to sustain public support for accession. For these reasons, the EU supports civil society development in Turkey and makes it important priority of EU Financial assistance to the country.

The Guiding Principles for EC Support of the Development of Civil Society in Turkey

In 2005 the Commission Communication on Civil Society Dialogue emphasized the importance of civil society dialogue for Croatia and Turkey. The Commission policy on civil society in candidate and potential candidate countries was reinforced in the 2007 Enlargement Strategy. This outlined a specific Civil Society Facility to support civil society development and dialogue. With the "Guiding Principles for EC Support of the Development of Civil Society in Turkey (PDF, 249 kB) " the Commission intends to refer in more concrete terms to the civil society development aspects for Turkey, including financial support under the Civil Society Facility and under the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights in Turkey.

The Guiding Principles support a multi-annual approach to support civil society development, in line with the existing strategy and programming documents, including the Accession Partnership and the Multi-annual Indicative Planning Document (MIPD 2009-2011).

The EU Delegation organised an open consultation on these Guiding Principles from 5 April to 30 May 2010 with 12 meetings across Turkey and ran an electronic consultation with Turkish Civil Society and Turkish Authorities. 382 comments were received, 268 of which were related to the Guiding Principles. All inputs received were carefully assessed for the finalisation of the Guiding Principles. This work is completed and the final version of the Guiding Principles and of the comments are available here. The European Commission thanks all those who provided comments and contributed to a dynamic interactive consultation process. In upcoming years, the Guiding Principles will be re-assessed.

Some Examples of Civil Society Development Projects

"Sivil Düşün" Programme

The needs and concerns of civil society in Turkey have been clearly identified during the consultation process on the Guiding Principles for EC Support of the Development of Civil Society in Turkey. As a result, different activities - going away from the standard project-approach - have been identified under the "Sivil Düşün" Programme, directly implemented by the EU Delegation in Turkey.

1. multi-annual support to existing or new national, regional, local or thematic platforms and networks

2. re-distribution of micro-grants by (an) intermediary civil society organisation(s) to allow for rapid, direct, small-scale support focused on CSOs immediate needs in performing their core activities as civil society actors

3. an Active Citizenship Mechanism that will allow for prompt identification and selection of requests for support as well as timely assistance such as interpretation, translation, travel, expertise, etc. to allow for a broader participation of active citizens in EU activities and of activists from the EU in civil society events in Turkey

4. support by a team directly working with the EU Delegation

For further information please visit:

2014 Award Notice for Civil Society Facility Turkey, Sivil Düşün EU Programme is Announced:

"Strengthening Civil Society Development and Civil Society-Public Sector Cooperation in Turkey"

Proposing rather innovative and complementary approaches to civil society development, this project is a very comprehensive one (including four sub-projects), involving several actors active for years in Turkey in strengthening the capacities of civil society organisations and working on promoting an enabling environment to civil society organisations. Therefore, this project aims at improving the environment and organisational capacity for civil society and at strengthening the capacities of organised active citizens. Civic participation in policy processes at all levels, including a better legal framework for establishing, operating and funding civil society organisations will be more effective. Finally, support will also be provided to the sustainable development of grassroots civil society organisations and established organisations and networks.

1. STGM, TÜSEV and YADA Foundation are implementing a first sub-project. They aim at increasing the dialogue between civil society organisations and the public authorities. For this to be done, among the various activities that will be implemented, for example, the establishment of a mutually accepted code of conduct is envisioned as a basis of future interactions (TÜSEV will be in the lead for this activity).

These organisations also aim at supporting the capacity building of fellow CSOs. In this regard, 1.400.000 € will be awarded to some 65 CSOs through a grant scheme. These small grants may then help more grass root organisations to have the capacity to develop larger projects and seek funding regarding their specific core tasks.

Another activity implemented by STGM will be institutional coaching and training seminars.

For further information please visit:

On the grant scheme, please follow the calls for proposals - planned to be launched during the 2nd quarter of 2013 - announced on: and

2. İstanbul Bilgi University will encourage the Youth to actively participate in democracy and carry the torch of this project. For this purpose it is expected of the young citizens to initiate campaigns to change related legislations and to raise awareness on democratic participation processes (such as age of election, being candidate procedures). Among other educative activities of the project, 5 academic researches on subjects such as participatory mechanisms and their attainability, barriers in front of the participation for different groups such as young citizens, women and ethnic/cultural different communities, development and use of a board game on "Participation and Citizenship" to reach at least 500 CSO member, study visits to Brussels and Ankara, and the effective use of a web portal through publishing documentaries and other relevant resources, will serve as the primary outlet of the project to reach out to the next generation of active citizens.

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3. As a successful network representative itself, KAGED will be in charge of developing and strengthening networks. In the first phase of the project, 8 networks will begin dialogue with representatives of the government. Of those 8 networks, at least 2 of them are aimed to be representing vulnerable and disadvantaged people such as women or refugees. Structural and logistic aid will be given according to the needs of various networks. At the end of the project it is expected to achieve a level of self-sufficiency in operating the network and maintaining dialogue with the government.

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4. Helsinki Citizens Assembly's primary responsibility in this project will be reinforcing CSOs in their strategic capacity. To ensure CSOs' sustainability, a number of activities will be provided to them. Among these activities, training workshops will be of great importance. The content of the workshops will focus on solving the problems of the CSOs in particular to their analytical and resource management issues. The expected result of these efforts will be that CSOs will possess the ability to make intervention when necessary.

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Civil Society Facility- Technical Assistance for Civil Society Organisations (TACSO)

This project is implemented in the Western Balkans and Turkey with financial assistance from the Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA).

Via it office in Ankara, the project implements numerous support activities all over Turkey for CSOs and civil society networks and platforms. Capacity building measures and resources overlap with a very strong focus on policy areas, networking and partnership, dialogue between CSOs and other institutions as well as CSO visibility.

For more information and contact details please see: