About the Civil Society Sector

The Directorate for EU Affairs (DEUA), always aware of the vital role of civil society and inter-societal dialogue in Turkey’s journey towards the European Union (EU), has continued to provide systematic support to the needs of civil society and CSOs with its civil society-oriented perspective developed since 2003 under the Civil Sector umbrella.

The Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA): Financial assistance allocated by the EU to support the fulfilment of the Accession Partnership and National Program priorities in areas directly related to Turkey’s EU candidacy and alignment process has been provided through the Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA) since 2007. Financial assistance provided through IPA is shaped to support the following three objectives outlined in the Accession Negotiation Framework, which is the fundamental document of the Turkey-EU negotiation process:

  • The implementation of the Copenhagen political criteria without exception, the deepening and internalization of political reforms,
  • Adoption and implementation of the EU acquis,
  • Strengthening dialogue with civil society and, within this framework, conducting a communication strategy targeting both the public opinions of EU countries and the Turkish public opinion.

2007-2013 IPA I Period: As Turkey-EU relations and EU financial assistance have changed over time, the Directorate’s support to civil society has also evolved and diversified. During the IPA I period covering the years 2007-2014, particular emphasis was placed on establishing channels of dialogue between the civil societies of Turkey and the EU.

You can find the place of civil society among the components of the 2007-2013 Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance in the visual below:

2014-2020 IPA II Period: The Civil Society Sector was defined as a separate sector in which civil society activities will be carried out with a holistic and inclusive approach in the IPA II period covering the years 2014-2020. The Directorate for EU Affairs took important steps towards strengthening the capacities of CSOs and establishing Public-CSO cooperation through projects that will serve to strengthen civil society, deepen the dialogue between the civil societies of the EU member states and Turkish civil society, and strengthen the capacities of CSOs, with both CSOs and relevant public institutions taking an active role under this sector defined in the IPA II period.

You can find the place of civil society among the components of the 2014-2020 Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance in the visual below:

Out of the €3.2 billion financial assistance allocated to Turkey by the EU in the IPA II period, approximately €190 million was allocated to projects and programmes under the Civil Society Sector. With civil society being defined as a sector, a separate budget allocated, and a special area created, a basis was created for programming civil society activities with a long-term perspective.

The following four main subject were defined with the Sector Planning Document developed by the Directorate for EU Affairs, outlining the main features of this framework,

  1. Strengthening public-civil society dialogue: It was aimed to strengthen the cooperation between the public sector and CSOs. It was aimed to increase the participation of CSOs in the public policy process at local and national levels.
  2. Improving the legal framework for CSOs: Improving the legislation on issues such as the establishment, work, financing, and audit of CSOs; It was aimed to create a more transparent and accountable environment for civil society.
  3. Strengthening the capacity of CSOs: It was aimed to strengthen the administrative, financial and human resource capacities of CSOs and develop their networking competencies in order to be effective in shaping, implementing and monitoring public policies.
  4. Developing civil society dialogue: It was aimed to establish long-term partnerships and cooperation between CSOs in the EU and Turkey.

Civil society supports: Within the scope of the Civil Society Dialogue Programme between Turkey and the EU, which has been implemented periodically by the Directorate for EU Affairs since 2008 within the scope of the IPA I and II Periods, and within the scope of the Civil Society Support Programme, implemented as of 2018, 65.5 million euros in grant support were provided directly by the Directorate for EU Affairs to 525 projects implemented by CSOs. You can find details about these projects on our website under the title SivilPort – Online Meeting Point of Civil Society.

In addition, the Directorate for EU Affairs played an active role in the implementation processes of many programmes carried out by relevant public institutions for the establishment of public-CSOs cooperation. You can find details about these programmes under the title of other programmes on our website.

The Directorate for EU Affairs attaches special importance to the inclusion and participation of civil society in grant programs implemented by other actors for issues that are of great concern to civil society, but for which CSOs cannot directly apply.

2021-2027 IPA III Period: Five priority areas were determined in the IPA III Period covering the years 2021-2027:

1. Rule of Law, Fundamental Rights, and Democracy

  • Judiciary
  • Fight against corruption
  • Fight against organised crime/security
  • Migration and border management
  • Fundamental rights
  • Democracy
  • Civil Society

2. Good Governance, Acquis Alignment, Good Neighbourly Relations, and Strategic Communication


  • Good governance
  • Administrative capacity and acquis alignment
  • Good neighbourly relations and reconciliation
  • Strategic communication, monitoring, evaluation, and

3. Green Agenda and Sustainable Connectivity


  1. Environment and climate change
  2. Transport, digital economy and society, and energy

4. Competitiveness and Inclusive Growth

  • Education, employment, social protection and inclusion policies, and health
  • Private sector development, trade, research, and innovation
  • Agriculture and rural development
  • Fisheries

5. Territorial and cross-border cooperation


  • Environmental Protection, Green Transformation, Combatting Climate Change
  • Sustainable Tourism
  • Competitive, Smart Circular Economy
  • Regional Development and Administrative Cooperation
  • Border Security, Support of Social Rights

IPA III Period projects: CSOs are also beneficiaries of grant projects in which local governments are beneficiaries of the Town Twinning Between Turkey and the EU-II: Twinning for a Green Future Grant Scheme, carried out by the Union of Municipalities of Turkey (UMT) will take part as a partner.

Under the IPA III Period, the Civil Engagement Project, financed by the EU and carried out by UNDP Turkey, will support joint projects of the public and CSOs on governance. Similarly, since the field of social entrepreneurship is a current issue that civil society attaches importance to and is closely interested in, significant contributions will be made to civil society through the Social Entrepreneurship Project. The Directorate for EU Affairs, the leading institution of the Civil Society Sector during the IPA II period, continues its work to implement support mechanisms for civil society during the IPA III period in order to ensure that the steps taken are sustainable and permanent.