First Estonian NGO Clamorings: What Has EKAK Ever Done for Us?

laine uudised-laine
3. Oct 2008

On October 31 NENO is organizing first clamorings of Estonian NGOs to discuss the future of Estonian Civil Society Development Concept, EKAK, or Estonian "Compact".

The tradition of clamorings dates back to ancient times in Estonia. If a "working bee" ("talgud" in Estonian) is intented for doing manual work together, then "clamoring" ("kärajad" in Estonian, "ting" in Germanic societies, "veche" in Slavic countries, "ekklesia" in ancient Athens, etc) is their intellectual counterpart. At the clamorings discussions were held on key problems of society, lawsuits, the questions of peace and war, and other matters.

In December 2008 it will be six years since the adoption of the Estonian Civil Society Concept (EKAK) by the Riigikogu. The document, initiated by non-governmental organizations, defines the mutually complementary roles of public authorities and civic organizations, and lays out principles and mechanisms for cooperation in shaping and implementing public policies and building civil society in Estonia. 

Such an agreement where both parties acknowledge each other as equal and independent partners with different obligations and opportunities is one of the first of its kind in the world. Thanks to laid-down principles, the development of the Estonian civil society has been well-advised and purposeful instead of “extinguishing” fires every now and then. It can be said that during those six years the capacity of both non-profit and public sector to work together has grown considerably, and there have been similar developments in the infrastructure, statutory funding of and engagement with non-governmental organizations. Among the countries with similar past Estonia is definitely among the leading countries in terms of institutionalizing relationships between the public and non-profit sector.

At the same time it is evident that many of the initial goals have not yet been reached. There have been occasional talks that the EKAK is “dead”, that neither NGOs nor the public sector are aware or interested of the EKAK. Do we need to change something? If yes, is it a new EKAK or a law on civil society? Or, is it a different kind of implementation mechanism? Do we need similar agreements on a municipal level? How to accomplish that?

Clamorings of Estonian NGOs is a forum where all NGOs have an equal say to the debate. During the day of debates we will discuss how the EKAK has worked for us so far, where it has been successful, where not, and what do we want to change. We will discuss the pros and cons of various options and formulate our proposals to NGO community, to the government, the Riigikogu, businesses and educational institutions. Additionally, we will introduce to the wider NGO community two recently completed important analyses in the field of statutory funding of NGOs: funding channeled through the ministries, and distribution of the proceeds of gambling tax. 

The first Estonian NGO Clamorings: What Has EKAK Ever Done for Us? is organized by the Network of Estonian Non-profit Organizations (NENO) with the support from the Baltic-American Partnership Program-Estonia, National Foundation of Civil Society and Ministry of the Interior. 


09.45 – Registration

10.30 – What Has EKAK Ever Done for Us? Urmo Kübar, CEO of NENO, and Siim Kiisler, Minister of Regional Affairs, will formulate the agenda for the day

11.00 – Every Seed is Sacred. Alari Rammo (NENO) and Maris Jõgeva (Open Estonia Foundation) will take a look back at the birth and subsequent implementation of the EKAK during the last six years: what have we achieved, what not and what are the lessons learned?

12.00 – Break for deliberation and discussion with cup of Fair Trade tea or coffee

12.20 – And Now for Something Completely Different. Maiu Uus and Jon Ender (Policy center PRAXIS) analyze the ministries’ practice of funding of NGOs, and Mari Mandel (BDA Consulting) the distribution of the proceeds from gambling tax to NGOs.

14.00 – Setting the agenda for three parallel working groups – Law on Civil Society (Urmas Reinsalu, the Riigikogu), EKAK Implementation Unit (Urmo Kübar, NENO), EKAK on a local level (Margit Reinkubjas, Tartu County NGO Chamber) 

14.30 – Light snack, again in the spirit of the Fair Trade Week

15.00 – Working groups discuss the pros and cons of various options and formulate the ways to go forward

16.00 – Working groups report back, followed by discussion

17.00 – Always Look on the Bright Side of Life. Mall Hellam (Open Estonia Foundation) summarizes the day’s work: where we are, who should do what, and when and how to assess the progress

For backround see also: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IaE3EaQte78 

PS! Similar debate is currently underway in the UK:http://www.thecompact.org.uk/information/101774/