ECNL Program Activities
In 2006, ECNL continued to address its five strategic aims to ensure a supportive legal infrastructure for civil society throughout the region: (1) Legal Framework for CSOs; (2) Financial Sustainability for CSOs; (3) Public Participation; (4) Good Governance; and (5) EU Enlargement. In addition, ECNL engaged in broader regional sharing and networking beyond the sphere of EU Enlargement. By the end of the year, ECNL became the lead in running the projects in all the Balkan countries formerly run by ICNL, with the exception of Bosnia, where ICNL's program ends in September 2007. Moreover, in 2006 ECNL managed to raise its first significant grants from the European Commission and thus, secure staff salaries for the next two years.
I. Legal Framework for CSOs
ECNL worked to support local initiatives aimed at improving the basic framework in the following countries:
Croatia - Legal Framework for Foundations - securing governmental support for the draft and convening local stakeholders from government, NGOs and academia to ensure that the draft Law on Foundations is the product of an inclusive, participatory drafting process.
Croatia - Publications on the Legal Framework Impacting NGOs
Serbia - Legislative Assistance: Draft Law on Associations - Since 2001, drafting initiatives have produced draft laws, but none have yet been enacted. In 2006, however, significant progress was made through cross-sectoral efforts to finalize a draft Law, which, as of October 1, had been submitted for consideration to the Parliament.
Hungary - Improving Court Registration Practices
Macedonia - amendments to the Law on Citizens' Associations and Foundations. In October 2006 the Government introduced to Parliament a set of amendments, which were not discussed with NGOs or experts. ECNL worked with local partners to prepare comments and develop advocacy strategy for the Government to amend the text.
II. Financial Sustainability for CSOs
ECNL focused significant attention on initiatives addressing tax reform and philanthropy. We worked to support NGO initiatives in the following countries:
Serbia - Taxation on Gifts to NGOs
Bosnia - Roundtable Event on the Impact of the Bosnian VAT Law on NGOs (coming into force as of January 1, 2006)
Giving in Europe - website created by the King Baudouin Foundation to allow donors, intermediaries and beneficiaries to inform themselves about the procedures for cross-border philanthropy (gifts, donations, legacies), taking into account civil, tax and philanthropic considerations. ECNL is facilitating the process of developing analysis and providing information for the 10 new member states.
Macedonia - upon initiative of Members of Parliament, businesses and some NGOs, a draft Law on Donations and Sponsorships in Public Activities was drafted in short time and adopted in April 2006. ECNL worked with local partners to help address concerns in the text, propose revisions and develop strategy to ensure NGO participation in the process.
III. Public Participation
During 2006, ECNL focused efforts to promote public participation primarily by supporting local initiatives to improve the legal framework for volunteerism. ECNL helped local partners tackle these and other issues in Croatia, Serbia, Macedonia as well as in Hungary. In addition, ECNL worked in Bosnia and in Hungary on cooperation between local governments and local NGOs:
Bosnia - Seminar for Municipal Officials on Local Compacts
Croatia - Legal Framework for Volunteerism - technical assistance to the Ministry of Family, Veterans Affairs and Intergenerational Solidarity in working toward a final draft.
Serbia - Legislative Assistance: Legal Framework for Volunteerism - ECNL/ICNL has been an active participant in a legislative drafting group commissioned by the Secretariat of Vojvodina for Labor, Employment and Gender Equality to prepare a draft Law on Volunteerism.
Hungary - Implementation Guide for the Law on Public Interest Volunteering - a handbook for NGOs on how to apply the provisions of the Law on Public Interest Volunteering.
Hungary - Local Values, Local Interest - Cooperation Mechanisms for Local CSOs - a handbook for municipalities on how to effectively work with local NGOs.
Macedonia - Law on Volunteering: the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs is drafting the law. ECNL is providing comments, and working with the Ministry and NGOs to organize public discussions.
IV. Good Governance
Throughout the year, ECNL made efforts to advance the accountability and governance practices of NGOs in CEE and in Europe.
Croatia - Good Governance Meeting.
Slovenia - Conference on Quality Standards for NGOs.
Serbia - Belgrade Fund for Humanitarian Law - institutional reform process.
Hungary - Accountability and Quality Development, Self-Power Project.
EU Code of Conduct for NGOs.
V. EU Enlargement
ECNL worked in 2005 to strengthen connections between the EU and Bulgaria, Romania, Macedonia, Turkey and Ukraine.
Romania - CSO Participation in the EU Structural Funds Process - to enhance CSO participation in EU related national processes and supporting the preparation of CSOs for the use and monitoring of Structural Funds.
Bulgaria - Comparative Analysis for Improving the Legal Framework for CSOs.
Macedonia - Government Strategy for Cooperation with the Civil Sector.
Turkey - 'SKIP' Project: Improving Cooperation Between CSO-Public Sector
Ukraine - Strengthening Regional Social Services
VI. Regional Sharing and Networking
Study tours - This fall ECNL organized four successive study visits for CSO and government officials from Macedonia, Croatia and Kosovo on philanthropy development, CSO/Government cooperation and public financing strategies.
Participation in International Events - Throughout 2006, ECNL representatives participated in international conferences, meetings, and events. Such even
ECNL Institutional Development
I. Governance and Strategy Development
There were some changes in the Supervisory Board of ECNL during 2006 due to the staggered rotation policy. Namely, Pavol Demes stepped down, while Prof. Tymen van der Ploeg joined ECNL's board. Following up on board discussions, ECNL worked to define its strategy for the coming years. Due to a number of factors, mainly the lack of capacity and prioritizing current project commitments over planning, the process was not finalized before the end of the year. Nevertheless, it has been clarified that ECNL is generally keeping the same strategic priorities it has been working along in the past two years, while expanding its geographic scope beyond the immediate EU neighborhood.
II. Fundraising and Financial Resources
By in large, ECNL met its financial targets, generating a revenue of $538,000 and expenses of $488,000, with a surplus of $50,000 for the year 2006, which includes a net unrestricted income of $16,300. As for the coming year, ECNL doubled its income and is projecting a total revenue of $875,000. The major sources of income include: USAID financed projects in partnership with local implementers ($459,000);
Newly obtained projects from the EU ($316,000)
Consultancy and other income ($48,000)
Mott Foundation institutional support ($50,000)
As can be seen from the above, ECNL has been very successful in fundraising over the past period. On the one hand, in 2005 and 2006 it was a partner in winning bids for USAID financed Civil Society Strengthening projects in five Balkan countries; on the other hand, in 2006 it finally managed to receive its first ever grants from the European Commission. These include a major grant of Euro 467,000 ($600,000) for two years to work on NGO legal reform issues in Southern Caucasus (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia) and Moldova. This means a strategic move for ECNL to expand beyond the Balkans and the immediate EU accession countries. ECNL was also a partner of the Civil Society Development Foundation Hungary in a successful bid to the DG Justice, Freedom and Security to build advocacy capacity of human rights NGOs in Hungary. ECNL will contribute to the development of participatory policy advocacy mechanisms between these NGOs and the governmental counterparts.