A resilient and dynamic civil society is a fundamental requirement for the sustenance of pluralistic liberal democracies. However, this critical role has rendered civil society increasingly susceptible to attacks. The escalating erosion of democratic values, the deepening of social divides, and the encroachment of political authoritarianism are undermining the efficacy and vitality of civil society across the EU. As a result, for at least the past decade, there has been a discernible tightening of the space available for civil society to operate in.

Furthermore, the emergence of new geopolitical and security challenges in the Eastern Partnership (EaP) region significantly underscores the importance of this neighborhood for the stability, security, democracy, and prosperity of Europe as a whole. The EaP countries have long suffered from conflict, corruption, weak democratic institutions, authoritarian tendencies, and oppressed civil societies, which the latter have continuously tried to counter-act. In the coming years, we anticipate additional instability and disruption as political tensions escalate, frozen conflicts reemerge, and relations deteriorate in the Eastern Partnership region and at international level, putting more pressure on civil society actors as a stabilizing factor. 

In response to these developmentsthe ‘Enhancing the Resilience of Civil Society in the Eastern Partnership’ (ERICS-EaP) project funded by the European Commission and led by the Transatlantic Foundation (TF), in cooperation with the Black Sea Trust for Regional Cooperation program of the German Marshall Fund of the United States addresses the challenges faced by civil society in all of the six EaP countries. 

The central objective of the ERICS-EaP project is to foster inclusive, resilient, and democratic societies across the Eastern Partnership region. This involves enhancing the capabilities of civil society entities and bolstering their involvement in the processes of democratization, reform, and recovery within the EaP countries. This is achieved by strengthening civic society organizations and initiatives and empowering their representatives in all endeavors.

ERICS-EaP aims to achieve the following four objectives:

  • To improve the financial and resource base of civil society in the region.
  • To provide key segments of regional civil society with targeted capacity-building for improved outreach, impact, visibility, accountability, and management.
  • To enable civil society to effectively embed with citizens, communities, and constituencies and to link them to all layers of government.
  • To enhance regional and international cooperation and exchange through civil society platforms and networks.

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