In the framework of its partnership with PICUM on EU funding for inclusion, ECRE published the Policy Note: Partnership in practice: including civil society in EU funded actions for the inclusion of migrants and refugees.

The partnership principle is a key feature of the ‘European added value’ in the EU funds which entails the involvement of stakeholders, in the preparation, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the funded actions. Such involvement should include civil society actors, social partners, local authorities, international organisations and the organisations representing beneficiaries, as – in the case of the European Social Fund + (ESF+) and the Asylum Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) – migrant and refugee-led organisations.

Despite a formal obligation, the partnership principle is very unevenly applied across different funds and member states. Different practices are often due to differences in national culture of public administration management, but also the lack of time and existing bureaucratic mechanisms discourages administrations from engaging with NGOs. As programming of EU funds for the next Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) (2021 – 2027) is currently taking place in member states, the upcoming t months represent an important window of opportunity for advocating for a better participation of NGOs in this process.

To ensure a full and comprehensive implementation of the partnership principle, NGOs need to be included from the beginning in the programming: open consultations should be held on the need of integration at the national level monitoring committees should include organisations working in the field and representatives of migrants and refugees communities and capacity building should be offered to stakeholders to promote their engagement. Delays, meeting cancellations and difficulties in coordinating participative processes due to the current COVID-19 health crisis should make national administrations develop creative mechanisms for stakeholders’ engagement, and not act as a pretext for lowering NGO participation in this process.

The Policy Note explores the implementation of the partnership principle in EU funds, with a clear focus on AMIF and ESF+, the main instruments responsible for financing integration initiatives. The paper points out the need to promote and replicate good practices in partnership and concludes by listing a number of recommendations to secure the engagement of civil society, both at the national and EU level, within the management of ESF+ and AMIF but also other funds employed for migrant and refugee’s inclusion.

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This article appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin . You can subscribe to the Weekly Bulletin here.