Project: 2005-2008 Bulgaria and Romania regional development

Posted on March 31, 2007 in Capacity building, Finished project, Green agenda, Public Participation.

2005-2008 Bulgaria and Romania regional development

Public participation in sustainable regional development in EU-accession countries Bulgaria and Romania

Aim: Ensure effective use of European Funds for regional development and promote regional development in line with the principles of sustainability and the public interest.

Global Scope: Bulgaria and Romania

Period: from 2005-10-01 till 2007-03-31     (59)

Funder: Matra Programme, Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Partners: Bulgaria: BlueLink Information Network (Sofia); PECSD (Varna); Earthforever (Svishtov)
Romania: Focus Eco Center (Tirgu Mures); Terra Mileniul III (Bucharest); Green Agora

Themes: EU-accession, raising public awareness, NGO-participation, networking

The membership of the European Union will yield Romania and Bulgaria new sources for rural development. Both countries have the opportunity to apply for the Cohesion Fund and the Structural Funds, starting in 2007, the year of accession.
Sustainable development constructs the fundament of regional development. To advocate and include sustainability, NGOs need to participate in regional policy making.
A strengthened NGO community and an active civil society is able to call for its needs and interests. Civil society has the right to manifest the needs and interests of their environment.

Participation for sustainability
Regional development is a core element of the development policy of the European Union. Regional agencies and local and regional communities have the possibility to apply for EU Funds with project proposals.
The implementation of European Funds for regional development should improve the region in different domains; environmental, social and economic development. Therefore, all stakeholders have to be stimulated to participate in the establishment of regional development plans to pronounce their needs.
There are three regions (NUTS II) selected for this project; Muntenia Sud in Romania and two Bulgarian regions: the North Central region and the North East region. The Romanian region Central-Transsylvania is also involved in the project, financed from other projects. Milieukontakt has created partnerships with NGOs; in Romania these are Eco Focus Center, Terra Mileniul III and Green Agora; in Bulgaria BlueLink Information Network, Earthforever and the Public Environmental Centre for Sustainable Development (PECSD). These national and regional NGOs will serve as coordinators. They are going to select suitable organizations to participate in the implementation of the project.

The challenge
Many NGOs in Romania and Bulgaria lack professional experience in participatory policy-making and are not very active. The access to governmental information is hampered by the authorities and the political situation is still centralised. The European Union has created NUTS II regions that are united without any administrative power.
There is lack of knowledge about EU-funding at NGOs and the public at large.
In attempt to tackle these different problems, Milieukontakt provides assistance to the Romanian and Bulgarian NGOs.
Once empowered, informed and mobilised, NGOs have the possibility to propose development plans themselves. Relatively small local projects can serve as pilots to prove the possibility of efficient sustainable application of funds and the importance of involvement of the civic

The objectives
The overall objective is to ensure sustainable use of European Funds for regional development. In order to achieve this, NGOs in Bulgaria and Romania need to participate in policy making to safeguard sustainable application of the European Funds. They will seek to create partnerships with different kinds of civic organisations.
To achieve this long term objective, the goals are to build close ties between authorities and NGOs to ensure the effective use of European Funds and to promote regional development in line with the principles of sustainability and the public interest.

The activities
The project will be approached on different levels; the activities are being organised on the local, region, national and the international level.
The co-ordinating national and regional NGOs will attract other NGOs to participate and to establish a coalition together that is able to influence policy making at the national and regional level.
There is assistance and training for capacity building,mobilising and attracting other NGOs from different sectors (such as social and economic organizations) to create alliances and exchange knowledge. They will receive information about European and national policymaking. Close ties with authorities should ensure participation in policy-making at different levels. Established Watchdog Teams will monitor the granting and implementing processes of European Funds. Regional development must be based on the principles of sustainability.
In international networks, the Bulgarian and Romanian organisations can cooperate with other NGOs to lobby and influence at European level.
Also NGOs from the new EU countries share their experiences from the last years and give information about the use of European Funds.

The three main components:
1. Creation of three regional networks on regional development issues.
2. Promotion the Green Agenda concept and develop pilot projects in two regions in Bulgaria and one region in Romania.
3. Twinning activities, international cooperation and networking

Expected results
On the international, national and regional level, Romanian and Bulgarian NGOs will participate in networks. This provides the NGO better access to the European Commission, information about EU policy and a better position for lobbying at European level.
In both countries, the coalitions with Watchdog Teams will be able to monitor the application of EU Funds for rural development. They can comment on project plans and propose alternatives in order to ensure sustainable use of the funds. The coalitions will act as models for other regions in Romania and Bulgaria.
On the local level, the Green Agenda projects will serve as models for sustainable regional development in which different actors of the (local) communities participate.
The provision of information on European Funds and public participation shall strengthen NGOs and the public at large and will enable them to be actively involved in policy-making related to sustainable regional development.

More information about the project on sustainable regional development in Romania and Bulgaria may be found in the brochure:

Brochure Sustainable EU-Funds Project in Romania and Bulgaria (Pdf file, 219kB)

Partners: Bulgaria: BlueLink Information Network (Sofia); PECSD (Varna); Earthforever (Svishtov)
Romania: Focus Eco Center (Tirgu Mures); Terra Mileniul III (Bucharest); Green Agora

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