Public lecture by Adam Fagan (Queen Mary University of London)
The Institute for Comparative Political Research invited Dr Adam Fagan who gave his lecture “EU Assistance for Civil Society in Eastern Europe: A Step Too Far for Democracy Promotion in Kosovo?” on 18 May 2010.
EU assistance for Kosovo is the most ambitious external relations venture embarked upon by the Commission to date. Much of the aid is channeled through ‘civil society' and NGOs. But attempts by foreign donors to promote civil society exogenously across post- socialist Eurasia are deemed to have achieved little in terms of stimulating individual participation and civic engagement. Why should such an apparently flawed strategy work in the altogether more challenging context of Kosovo? Rather than focusing primarily on the extent to which EU assistance in Kosovo is generating democratic participation, it will be argued in this lecture that we need to consider the degree to which the Commission's aid is helping to generate transactional capacity amongst recipient NGOs. Whilst it is concluded that the EU's assistance appears to be delivering some success in augmenting the development or ‘governance' capacity of a small number of Pristina-based NGOs, the assistance is exerting a differentiated impact on recipients. Moreover, whilst the pro-active approach to building community action and grassroots development capacity is commendable, the extent to which this will stimulate participation depends on whether the new tier of professional NGOs with their ‘transactional' capacity can be successfully connected to deeply enmeshed grass roots networks.
Dr. Adam Fagan: