Deirdre de Burca, Forus Advocacy Co-ordinator

In 2016, Forus signed a Framework Partnership with the EU. The objectives of the FPA are a concrete expression of the commitment of the European Commission to support civil society organisations and associations of local authorities as actors of governance. The agreements encourage actors to contribute to policy-making at regional and global levels, especially in the formulation and monitoring of policies on the implementation and localisation of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Forus is one of the EU’s 29 Framework Partners at present. These are a combination of European, regional and global CSOs. The Framework Partnerships provide these CSOs with privileged access to the EU, and to opportunities for regular dialogue with the European Commission on issues of mutual interest.

Each year the EU convenes a Partnership Forum at which its Framework Partners meet and discuss issues related to EU development co-operation, and exchange experiences and perspectives. Forus' recent participation in the EU Partnership Forum 2018 was just another example of the strengthening relationship between the EU and Forus.

The theme of this year’s Partnership Forum was the implementation of Agenda 2030. Following feedback from its Framework Partners after last year’s Partnership Forum the EU agreed to adopt a collaborative approach to organising and planning this year’s Forum. Forus was centrally involved in co-ordinating the 29 EU Framework Partners and in in proposing topics and methodologies for the Forum.

Day One of the two Day Forum was reserved exclusively for the Framework Partners.

Forus moderated the opening session on the topic of “Localising and Implementing the SDGs”. Magda Elena Toma, Forus Director was a keynote speaker in a panel discussion on “Refining and Improving the Partnerships”.

Forus’ Chairman, Miguel Santibañez and Director of PIANGO, Emele Duitutaraga were keynote speakers on Day Two during a high-level panel debate on Agenda 2030 and creating an enabling environment for civil society. Emele also spoke about the urgency of climate action as part of a panel discussion on Climate Change.

The workshop-based methodology of many of the Forum’s sessions allowed Forus and other FPAs from different regions of the world to sit together and develop recommendations for the European Commission. These recommendations included proposals on capacity development, enabling environment, the role of EU Delegations and EU funding, amongst others.

The European Commission agreed that there would be major benefits from the EU Delegations working more closely with EU FPAs in the field and it also encouraged FPAs to focus on the EU Country Roadmaps and the policy priorities set out in these Roadmaps.

Finally, the EU has proposed to FPAs that they should consider supporting the merging of the annual EU Policy Forum for Development (PFD) with the Partnership Forum from 2019 onwards. This move could be a major step in establishing a new system of structured dialogue between the EU and its Framework Partners.

Forus will continue to work with the European Union to increase its understanding of the diverse needs and interests of Forus members in different parts of the world, and to consolidate the partnership for the future.