The project aim was to support capacity-building for the NGO Centre, NGOs and their networks, as well as to strengthen the dialogue between government and civil society. The Government Office for European Affairs was assisted in the development of a National NGO Strategy, improvements to the regulatory framework (legal and tax status of NGOs) and the development of an NGO funding mechanism. The project also facilitated the establishment of a framework and structure for dialogue between government and NGOs (at central and local level).
To prepare for joining the EU on 1 May 2004 Slovenia needed to strengthen its civil society sector. The Dutch government funded the Matra project, which aimed to assist the civil society sector in making necessary improvements and to support the Government of Slovenia in setting up a structure for dialogue as well as developing policies, a legal framework and financial instruments.
Slovenia had many civil society organisations and NGOs, but there was a lack of communication, co-ordination, facilities, networking, information channels and co-operation between NGOs and little dialogue with the government of Slovenia.
To strengthen the NGO sector an NGO Centre (CNVOS) had been established with the help of the government. An important strand of the project was therefore to support the Centre in developing the necessary policies and instruments to support NGOs in project management, lobbying and co-operation with NGOs at the European level.
Other important project strands were to:
By the end of the project the following had been achieved:
The evaluation of the project between the major partners (government, CNVOS, project teams) resulted in the following conclusions.
The combination of project strategies (support to CNVOS, stimulating NGO networking, supporting development of the regulatory framework and institutionalisation of dialogue between the government and NGOs) ensured the project had the maximum impact on the overall objective to strengthen the NGO sector.
The combination of strategies was instrumental in creating momentum and synergy among experts from Slovenian ministries which led to a process that produced a National Strategy. The Matra team helped to manage the process and facilitated and provided expert inputs, but the final product is in fact owned by the Slovenian counterparts. This gave it a better chance of being implemented than if the Matra team had "parachuted" its product in.
The National Strategy had the effect of waking up the NGO community and stimulating the NGOs to formulate a common stand in reaction to the government. Formulating and presenting the National Strategy has been relatively effective in stimulating NGO networking indirectly.