National Strategy for the Creation of An Enabling Environment for the Civil Society Development
In the period of Croatia’s intense preparations for joining the European Union, the National Strategy gives guidelines for the creation of an enabling environment for civil society development until 2016 in order to further improve the legal, financial and institutional system of support for civil society organizations’ activities. CSOs are not only an important part of the social and economic development in Croatia, but also significant stakeholders in the shaping and implementation of European Union policies. Moreover, the Strategy includes specific deadlines and implementing bodies, funding sources for the implementation of planned measures and activities, as well as the indicators for evaluating the implementation success.
The procedure of drawing up the National Strategy for the Creation of an Enabling Environment for Civil Society Development2012-2016 began at the NGO Days 2011 when about two hundred participants in the events together developed the proposals for the vision of civil society development in Croatia. As a continuation of the process a discussion on starting points for the drawing up of the National Strategy took place in June 2011. About thirty participants, who were the representatives of state administration bodies and CSOs, took part in the discussion. In line with what was agreed at the public debate, starting in September 2011 about fifty representatives of CSOs and state administration bodies were involved in writing up the proposals for the Strategy which took many months. As a result of these efforts, public consultations on the Draft Strategy were conducted from 22 May to 6 July 2012 and a public debate in which CSO representatives took part was held on 4 June. A few expert meetings were also held on specific measures and activities from the National Strategy, e.g. social service provision and non-profit media activities. Furthermore, CSOs were given the opportunity of equal participation in all phases of the document development, the final occasion being the NGO Days 2012 (14-16 June) where the participating CSO representatives had the opportunity to offer additional comments on the Draft National Strategy.
The National Strategy for the Creation of an Enabling Environment for Civil Society Development 2012-2016 is a document with which it is attempted on a strategic level to set the objectives which Croatia wishes to achieve within civil society development sphere in the next five-year period. Apart from the introductory and final provisions, as well as an index, the document comprises four main parts: the value basis of relations between the state and civil society, civil society development in Croatia, National Strategy areas and National Strategy implementation. The most important and the most extensive part is the one which defines the basic areas of the National Strategy, wherein four areas are referred to: the institutional framework for civil society development support, civil society and participatory democracy, strengthening the role of CSOs for social and economic development and activity, and further civil society development within the international context. For each of the above mentioned areas objectives and measures are defined which the National Strategy looks to achieve namely, implementation activities needed for achieving the objectives and measures; implementing and co-implementing bodies; deadlines; funding sources necessary for their implementation; and the indicators on the basis of which the progress in the implementation is to be evaluated. The document lists in total 26 objectives, 27 measures and 91 implementation activities.
The first part of the document namely the value basis of relations between the state and civil society briefly lists and explains the basic values on which the National Strategy rests. The second part of the document contains an analysis of civil society development in Croatia, especially the development of legal and institutional framework. The first of the aforementioned priority areas pertains to the institutional civil society development support where it needs to be emphasized that one of the main objectives in this area is promotion and ensuring equal civil society development in all Croatian regions. The second priority area entitled civil society and participatory democracy, deals with the issues of the role of citizens in the political process, their competence for participating in the process of making political decisions and shaping public policy, democratic citizenship education, volunteering and non-profit media. The third area of the Strategy, namely strengthening the role of CSOs in social and economic development contains two parts. The first part refers to social service provision by CSOs, and the second to social innovation and social entrepreneurship development. The fourth and the last area describes the possibilities and the challenges arising from the fact that Croatia is joining the European Union, but also from other globalization processes in the economic, political and cultural sphere.