Revitalising Arab civil society: Commissioner launches new joint programme with Anna Lindh Foundation

Stefan Füle, EU Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy, today outlined a deeper and closer working partnership with the Anna Lindh Foundation, announcing an initiative aimed to revitalize civil societies in the Southern Mediterranean and to improve their capacities in democratic transition efforts. The Commissioner is launching a new three-year joint programme with the Foundation, to run concurrently with the present EU-Anna Lindh operational mandate.
“For the past six years, we have supported the Anna Lindh Foundation financially and politically in their work, and the region’s populations have enjoyed the returns on those investments. Today I am delighted to announce that we now intend to deepen that support through the launching of a new three-year programme, to be managed by the Foundation, aimed at mobilising and revitalising civil societies in the southern Mediterranean countries and improving their capacity for participating in democratic transitions,” said Commissioner Füle.
A press release said the Commissioner addressed a meeting in Brussels of over 100 participants including members of the 2003 ‘Groupe des Sages’ (the founding fathers of the Foundation), leading civil society actors from the Euro-Mediterranean region, members of the Anna Lindh advisory Council and political and diplomatic representatives from European, North African and Middle Eastern countries. The meeting was convened to take stock of the Foundation's activities and strategies and to discuss new orientations. In his keynote address, the Commissioner stressed the need for more cooperation with EU partners engaged in responding to evolving needs in the wake of the Arab uprisings. 
This new programme is extra, and complementary to the triennial work programme, for the period 2012-2014 and, in the first instance, will concentrate on initiatives in Tunisia, Libya and Egypt. This may, over the course of the programme, be extended to other countries in the region.
Among the new programme’s objectives are activities – such as training and regional exchange exercises – that aim to assist civil society actors to participate in the construction of new and more democratic societies. Mechanisms for early warning systems for the interpretation and analysis of changing intercultural and social trends will also be established. The initiative, due to start in early 2012, will have a particular focus on the media, culture and education sectors.
The EU is the leading donor of the Foundation with almost €20 million funding provided since the Foundation's inception in 2005.  
The Anna Lindh Foundation for the Dialogue between Cultures is a €7 million EU-funded project which aims at bringing people and organisations of the region closer and promoting dialogue, by offering them opportunities to work together on projects in the fields of culture, education, science, human rights, sustainable development, the empowerment of women and the arts. The Foundation is the first institution to be jointly created and co-financed by all member countries of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership. (ENPI Info Centre)
Read more
Press release
ENPI Info Centre - Intercultural dialogue in the wake of the Arab Spring: Anna Lindh to hold high-level meeting to meet new challenges in the Mediterranean
Anna Lindh Foundation – fiche and news
Anna Lindh Foundation – website

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