Monitoring the Effectiveness of State Policies on Civil Society Development. European Experience
Every country examined has adopted some kind of an overarching policy document over the past two decades relating to the development of civil society and the CSO sector. These documents range from mutual agreements between the government (UK, Croatia) or parliament (Estonia) and the CSOs, to parallel agreements with both government and parliament (Latvia) and to unilateral strategies adopted by the government (Hungary, Poland, Denmark, Czech Republic). Half of the countries reviewed or renewed their policy documents within the course of 10-12 years; in some cases (Hungary, Estonia) this was a scheduled review, while in others it was linked to a change in government (most notably in the case of the UK) or to a change in implementation timeline (Poland). Croatia has not yet reviewed its civil society strategy; while Latvia and the Czech Republic have more recent documents that are scheduled for review in the coming years. In the new EU member states, reviews are also linked to the programming cycles of the National Development Plans2 (as in Poland and Latvia).
The countries ensure implementation in different ways. Several have adopted one or more policy documents that have the function of an implementation plan (Croatia, Estonia, Denmark – for development cooperation3, Hungary, and Poland); while others don’t have a specific overall implementation or operational plan but implement the policies based on detailed annual plans of the responsible persons or bodies (Czech Republic, Latvia, UK,). In addition, some countries (UK, Croatia, Estonia) adopted further policy documents relating to a thematic or procedural issue as part of the implementation – most typically, principles or guidelines (“codes”) on funding procedures, on CSO participation and on local development. Besides implementation plans and policy documents, countries also ensure implementation of their civil society policies through governmental programs: most typically funds and foundations (Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Hungary, Estonia), but also capacity building and community development programs (UK), and the so-called Operational Programs, which are funded from the EU Structural Funds as part of the National Development Plans in EUmember states (Hungary, Poland).