A couple of individual branches of the communist umbrella organizations from the first type were before and during the political changes in Central Europe, able to shift secretly towards the second type of groups. Because being active in an official environmental organization was almost the only way of being political reactive to the communist government, without being seriously punished. Branches of the SZOPK and the CSOP in especially Bratislava and Prague became in this way strong opponents of the communist regimes. People were still working under the name of the legal organization, but in fact dealing with illegal activities.
Considering this history it is logical that on one hand a lot of 'green' activists moved into the new political structures and on the other hand that plenty of new environmental NGOs were established build upon the branches and members of the 'old' communist organizations. Around 1993 almost all yet East-East cooperative NGOs were established and registered by the new governments of Central Europe.
The levels on which East-East cooperative NGOs are organized show a lot of variation. The big umbrella organizations succeeding the former communist organizations, like the SZOPK, Strom Zivota, the PKE and the CSOP have huge national networks of member groups. An organization like CEEWEB works only on the international level and on the contrary the White Carpathian branch of the STUZ was originally just active on the local level. The latter became only East-East cooperative because the splitting up of the Czechoslovakian Federation splitted their geographical working area as well. Besides this special case it is also possible that NGOs working and organized mainly on the local level establish East-East cooperation. This is the case for Reflex which is active in and around the Hungarian city Györ, exactly at the Danube border with Slovakia.
Summarizing the organizational level on itself does not predict the ability for East-East cooperation of a particular NGO. Only the quality and/or effectiveness of the chosen structure influences this ability.
Both goal and activity can be divided into type of goal or activity and specific environmental topic where goals and connected activities are focused on. An example of the type of activity is 'giving environmental education', whereas nature conservation or water pollution are examples of specific environmental topics. East-East cooperative NGOs do not just do something; they have a certain strategy, although this does not have to be written. They focus on one or more specific environmental topic(s).
First we come to the type of goal(s) and forthcoming activities. Very popular under East-East cooperative NGOs are the collection and dissemination of information and giving environmental education. Environmental monitoring and social and political activities, like commenting on draft laws and lobbying, are less undertaken activities. A typical goal and activity for campaigning groups are conducting protest actions, but only two East-East cooperative NGOs characterized themselves as campaigning NGOs. The others are not really in favor of protest actions. Working on environmental technology and design was not done at all. A bit a separate, but very important, type of activity is nature protection action. All nature conservation groups have their 'in-the-nature' activities as their priority, mostly strong connected with environmental education and/or collection and dissemination of information.
Second the specific environmental topic deserves a look. The majority of East-East cooperative NGOs works on nature conservation topics, like a certain protected area at a border or migrating species (birds, bats or fish for example). Besides that direct transboundary topics like a border crossing river basin are in favor. More general topics like waste management, biodiversity or air pollution are mentioned by a minority of the interviewed East-East cooperative NGOs. The two campaigning groups focus on a general topic per campaign, for example against nuclear power plants, for ozone layer protection or extra bicycle paths in their town.
Western volunteers work mainly as organization experts, translators and/or international contact person for 'their' NGO. They seem to be very useful for writing project proposals to funding organizations and for keeping the international contacts of the NGO.[Siegel and Yancey, 1992, p. 59]
Functioning membership systems are an exception among East-East cooperative NGOs in CE. [Kolk and van der Wey, 1995, p. 12] Actually it seems to be very hard for all NGOs in CE to organize a working membership system. Fees are hardly paid and citizens do not want to be connected with an organization. Reasons for this behavior are the forced memberships of governmental organizations in the communist times and the lack of interest and money available for environmental organizations in the average CE households. At the NGOs side, they simply lack the capacity to start membership campaigns. Only the PKE is working on this issue right now, but this is an East-East cooperative NGO with one of the biggest budgets. From the preceding it is also clear that membership fees do not give very much financial support. Usually it counts for about 1-2% of the total budget of a NGO.
The highest budgets, over USD 200,000 a year, belong to big umbrella organizations like the PKE, CSOP and Strom Zivota. The main sources for money for all East-East cooperative NGOs in the sample are funds. Funds are coming from funding organizations or national governmental bodies. Well known funding organizations or programs in this field are, among others, PHARE, UNEP, the European Union, European Parliament, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the German Marshallfund, Environmental Partnership for Central Europe, Regional Environmental Center, Milieukontakt Oost-Europa, and Western governments. Governmental support is coming from community, local and/or national authorities, most probably from environmental, educational or health authorities. Finally some money is received from other NGOs, mainly from worldwide and/or Western NGOs like Greenpeace International, WWF, Global 2000, Friends of the Earth International and so on.
Only one organization in the sample succeeded in getting substantial funding from the (environmental) private sector.
Both own activities and membership fees do not really count for the budget. Usually own activities like printing and selling books raises more costs than revenues.
Finally we should have a look at the way funds are received. A big problem with the financial situation of NGOs is the fact that funds are normally only given for a certain specified project which starts and finishes and requires for a fixed term financial, human and technical resources. After such a project the money is gone and the NGO already has to have new funds to survive further on. Core funding is very hard to get and most East-East cooperative NGOs depend very much on projectbased, Western money, to keep their organization going; project by project.
Extern relationships with lower level governmental bodies, like the country government, the city council and protected area authorities are usually based on medium to high intensive cooperation rather than conflict. Sometimes conflictuous situations occur in cases where NGOs protest against local environmental policies or for example require political influence.
The relationships with environmental NGOs can be divided into contacts with:
On both national and international level the relationships are cooperative, when the cooperation is needed to reach to goal(s) of the NGO. In Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic national NGO networks exist or are coming into existence. In Hungary the green movement is very much diversified and until now a national environmental NGO network could not be established. Usually the East-East cooperative NGOs have good contacts, share information and experience or even have common projects with a couple of national NGOs.
On international level it is obvious that Western NGOs are favorite as partners. The expectation for beneficial cooperation towards Western NGOs is still much bigger. Central European NGOs expect new and hot information, organizational assistance, financial support and environmental expertise from their Western counterparts. All this is not expected from CEE NGOs. All East-East cooperative NGOs have at least contacts with one Western NGO, but normally they try to be involved in as much Western or worldwide environmental networks as possible. Organizations like WWF, Greenpeace, FoEI, IUCN and Coalition Clean Baltic are very popular and seem to be starting point for East-East cooperation as well.
Of course all interviewed NGOs had at least contacts with other Eastern environmental NGOs, since they were selected on this criterion. In the following paragraphs the motivation, problems, benefits and expected future of East-East cooperation is described.