Summer Academy for Strengthening Democracy in

the Euro-Med region (2015)


Bulgarian school of politics «Dimitry Panitza»( BSOP )

Bulgarian school of politics “Dimitry Panitza” was established in 2001. It is part of the network of schools of political studies under the auspices of the Council of Europe, in which 21 organisations from Central and Eastern Europe, Caucasus and the South Mediterranean take part. The BSoP`s mission is to support the creation of a community of civic and political leaders with an active stand in national, European and global political and public life, devoted to contemporary democratic values of pluralism, tolerance and informed debate.

BSoP has extensive experience in several key areas. Through training programmes the School aims to encourage the process of democratization in Bulgaria and the countries from the Western Balkans, Black Sea region and the South Mediterranean.

In the National Programme “Governing Skills” public and political leaders from parliamentary represented parties, NGOs, central and local administration, trade unions and magistrates are trained. The aim of the trainings is to promote public debate on important topics such as principles of effective and ethical governance, human rights, gender equality, and supremacy of law and judiciary reform. The BSoP maintains a network of more than 650 alumni of the National programme, and supports their work on important public causes.

From 2003 to 2011 more than 200 young public and political leaders from Southeast European states went through the Regional Programme “Political Debate in Southeast Europe”. The goal of this programme was to promote a transnational constructive dialogue on common problems for the region.

The School also actively offers its know-how to the countries in North Africa. The Tunisian school of politics was founded with the support of BSoP. The main role of the Bulgarian school is to provide methodological assistance to the Tunisian School of Politics and to help in its capacity building. The Citizen School of Political Studies in Morocco and BSoP have a strategic agreement for cooperation and exchange of expertise. Due to the Bulgarian expertise, the establishment of the Civic and Political school in Yaoundé, Cameroon was supported.

The School supports the methodological and institutional development of Ukrainian and Moldovan Schools of Politics and shares its specific expertise in the field of the accession to NATO and EU. BSoP is contributing towards the creation of better training opportunities for politicians, government officials and leaders of non-governmental sector through the implementation of training of trainers’ projects.

The Bulgarian School of Politics “Dimitry Panitza” also works for the promotion of civil participation in Bulgaria’s public life. The School does researches of the forms of institutional public control and supports means of informed choice for the citizens through various initiatives and on-line tools. Part of BSoP’s activities is also the topic about climate change and energy, as the realisation of sustainable low-carbon growth both for the economies of Bulgaria and Europe and in the world is one of the biggest challenges ahead of the humanity today. The School has a long-standing tradition in the area of philanthropy. With numerous initiatives, it aims to revive the value of charity in the society and runs public debates on problems and challenges that philanthropy faces in Bulgaria.

The Citizenship School of Political Studies ( CSPS )

The Citizenship School of Political Studies in Morocco was established in December 2012 with the aim to support Moroccan leaders who actively participate in public and political life.

The School was created by 40 national and regional non-governmental organizations, which work in different areas of democratic government and human rights, and has being supported by the Council of Europe. The focus of its activities is on training of young Moroccan leaders in the areas of national public policies and on topics related to challenges in applying the new Constitution of the country, adopted in 2011. The School strives at creating conditions for debate, bridging theoretical knowledge and practical skills, and making political processes more accessible and understandable to all.

The annual training cycle includes a cohort of 30 participants - men and women from all regions of the country. The trainings are in the form of seminars, round tables and conferences, in which national and international experts with diverse experience are invited.

The School's mission is to support young leaders from political parties, trade unions, NGOs, public and local administration and to stimulate public debate related to human rights and democratization.

The School is a member of the Association of Schools of Political Studies and is part of the CoE efforts to promote democratic reform in the Southern Mediterranean.

Tunisian School of Politics  ( TSOP )

The Tunisian School of Politics is a joint initiative of Tunisian Centre of Mediterranean and International Studies, the Bulgarian School of Politics “Dimitry Panitza”, the Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy and Demo Finland.

Its overall objective is to strengthen inclusive democracy and youth participation in politics in Tunisia. For implementing this objective, the specific objective of the School’s work is to increase the capacity and skills of politically active youth.

This is achieved by establishing a cross-party training network of leading youth politicians. The training network takes the form of a Tunisian School of Politics (TSoP) that targets young people already active in political parties. The TSoP consists of courses that provide youth politicians with increased knowledge in multiparty system and democratic practices. The courses also provide them with the necessary skills and tools to influence political decision-making process in a more effective manner.

The overarching methodology of the TSoP is based on the importance of cross-party engagement in supporting the development of the Tunisian democratic system and capacity-building of its chosen target group - youth politicians. The cross-party approach encourages constructive engagement and communication between different political parties which will be vital for the democratic transition and stability of Tunisia in the longer term.


The Schools of Political Studies of the Council of Europe

 Building a new democratic political culture

For twenty years, the Schools of Political Studies of the Council of Europe have developed to provide training to emerging leaders aspiring to build a modern, democratic political culture. Today there are Schools in Central, Eastern and South-Eastern Europe, the South Caucasus and part of the Maghreb region in Northern Africa.

The Schools of Political Studies offer an open and fair-minded space where dialogue and exchange are encouraged between upcoming leaders active in the political, economic, social, media, cultural and environmental spheres. Annual cycles of seminars and other events address themes relating to democracy, the rule of law and human rights.

Participants are selected from various political parties, public administrations, different sectors of civil society and from minority groups. In this way, the Schools provide an opportunity to bring together stakeholders from all elements and shades of society who otherwise rarely communicate with each other; in some countries the Schools of Political Studies may be the only forum where such dialogue is possible.

A success story of the Council of Europe

The vitality of the European democratic model is under stress and faces a wide range of challenges such as political extremism, populism, impacts of economic and financial crises, electoral absenteeism and political stagnation. Responding to such threats is at the heart of the Council of Europe’s mandate and the Schools of Political Studies are reliable and active partners in this task, functioning as effective multipliers for the values and standards promoted by the Organisation.

At the same time, the Council of Europe offers the Schools a patronage that enables them to adhere to the high benchmarks advocated by the Organisation. This is particularly important in countries where they may be subject to political pressure.
Recognising this mutually beneficial relationship, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe has identified the Schools of Political Studies as a priority area for the Organisation. A continuous effort is being made to further mainstream the Schools into the activities of other sectors of the Organisation, for example standard setting and monitoring bodies, capacity-building activities, as well as the Parliamentary Assembly and the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities.

An effective and expanding Network

The Network of the Schools of Political Studies was created by the Council of Europe in 2005 and has blossomed into one of the most successful and well-functioning European networks of democratic leadership training. It strengthens the ties amongst the Schools and between the Schools and the Council of Europe and enables the Schools to co-operate in a broad and diverse community of interest, whilst at the same time maintaining their specificity and autonomy. The Network helps to secure the independence of the Schools as well as their adherence to democratic values.

The Association of Schools of Political Studies: a Network for Democracy in the 21st century

In 2008, the Directors of the Schools of Political Studies founded the European Association of Schools of Political Studies in order to strengthen ties, stimulate development and support the Council of Europe’s activities to promote the Schools’ Network. Endowed with a legal framework, the Schools now have a tool which allows the Network to communicate with a voice of its own.

The Association plays an important role in supporting the Schools’ alumni. The website of the Association has become a major communication and information hub for its members as well as providing a platform for dialogue and exchange amongst School alumni and current participants.

South Programme II “Towards a Strengthened Democratic Governance in the Southern Mediterranean”)

Programme's objectives: ambitious but realistic and measurable

The overall objective of the South programme II is to contribute to reinforcing human rights, rule of law and democracy in Southern Mediterranean partner countries in accordance with European and other international standards, based on a demand-driven approach.

The South programme is more specifically aiming to:
  •     Support constitutional processes in Southern Mediterranean countries, the development of new legislation and the setting-up and functioning of human rights institutions and democratic governance structures.
  •      Promote the creation and the consolidation of a common legal space between Europe and the Southern Mediterranean by raising awareness on key CoE Conventions and other European and international standards as well as to strengthen human rights, good governance and democratic values in the Southern Mediterranean region.
  •     Promote the exchange of best practices between Europe and countries of the Southern Mediterranean region and within the region with a view to supporting and consolidating on-going democratic reform processes, in particular through the creation of formal and informal networks.
Expected results of the South programme II: from activities to longterm impact
  •    Improved level of compliance of new/revised partner countries legislation in the fields of human rights, rule of law and democracy with European and other international standards;
  •   Strengthened institutional capacities for new/existing democratic governance structures, the judiciary, human rights institutions and democratically-elected representative bodies in the South Mediterranean, thereby ensuring endorsement of democratic reforms by them and sustainability of key programme’s outputs
  •  Enhanced level of intergovernmental and interparliamentary co-operation in the field of human rights, rule of law and democray between the two shores of the Mediterranean;
  • Consolidation and expansion of the common legal space between Europe and the South Mediterranean through the progressive accession by partner countries to CoE conventions, thereby strengthening human rights, rule of law and democracy in the region.
  •  Enhanced level of regional co-operation through the creation of and/or support to formal and informal networks linking the two shores of the Mediterranean and/or countries of the Southern Mediterranean region, and focusing on the exchange of best practices in the field of human rights, rule of law and democracy.
Flexibility and delivery of expertise through the demand-driven approach

Following the requests from participating countries the South Programme is exploring to its full potential the transfer of expertise “from East to South” along with the exchange of best practices and transfer of expertise “North-South” and “South-South”. The South Programme II brings on board the specific CoE experience from the transitional democratic processes in Central and Eastern Europe after the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989. The Organisation possesses a unique experience in accompanying the transition to democracy processes and the establishment of democratic institutions across Central and Eastern Europe.

Therefore the CoE is well placed to continue spreading in the Southern Mediterranean values that both EU and CoE Member states consider to be universal. Besides, the CoE will continue to adapt its intervention to the specificities of the ongoing democratic processes in the Southern Mediterranean and to respond adequately to the partners’ needs.