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Estonian Civil Society Development Concept

The mission and goals of the civil society are written down in a strategy document called the Estonian Civil Society Development Concept, known as EKAK.

EKAK is a document that defines the mutually complementing roles of public authorities and civic initiative, principles of their cooperation and mechanisms and priorities for cooperation in shaping and implementing public policies and building up civil society in Estonia.

The Estonian Civil Society Development Concept is a document that was developed greatly by NENO. In December 2002, the Estonian parliament, Riigikogu, adopted the Concept as a basis for co-operation with the Third sector.

October 31, 2008 NENO organized first Estonian NGO Clamorings to discuss the future of EKAK.

Estonian Civil Society Development Concept

„Estonian Civil Society Development Concept: Framework for Cooperation Between Third and Public Sector“ - a brief overview and some learning points by Urmo Kübar, prepared for the European Conference „How to Foster Civil Dialogue“ in Brussels, 15 May 2008
ACTIVITY PLAN for the implementing Estonian Civil Society Development Concept for 2004-2006
Overview of the work of the joint committee of the Government of the Republic and representatives of citizens’ associations for implementing the Estonian Civil Society Development Concept between June 2005 and May 2006

A little bit history

For the implementation of EKAK, a joint committee of 22 representatives from public and nonprofit sectors was assembled, chaired by the minister of Regional Affairs. The committee started in October, 2003, organizing its work in three groups: (1) working group on involvement, consultation, policy appraisal, and legislation, (2) working group on funding and statistics, and (3) working group on awareness, civic education, media and infrastructure.

The working groups turned EKAK’s objectives, principles and priorities into a specific implementation plan of 2005-2007 complete with 11 goals. Every two years, Estonian Parliament, Riigikogu, organizes a public hearing on its implementation (first was January 2005), thus providing governance for the whole process. With EKAK, nonprofits not only set the sector’s agenda, they set societal agenda.

Goals deal with the following issues:
1. Establishing of structures to increase cooperation between the government and CSOs (civil society organizations, a.k.a. nonprofits) in developing civic initiative
2. Clear mechanisms for the involvement of CSOs in the development and implementation of policies and legislative acts
3. Overview of different forms of civic engagement and appropriate legal environment for the support of civic initiative
4. Effective usage of ICT means for the involvement of citizens into decision-making processes
5. Transparent and clear funding schemes targeted to support the development of CS and CSOs from state budget
6. Improved and targeted system of tax benefits and charitable giving
7. Overview of umbrella organizations, their current and possible future role in cooperation with the public sector
8. Adequate and informational register of nonprofit organizations, and improved data collection methods describing civic engagement
9. Educational institutions to foster the development of caring and responsible citizens who value participation and volunteering
10. Infrastructure and networks supportive of civic engagement and civic initiative
11. Various opportunities for life-long learning accessible to everyone.