EU Intends to Create Fund for Civil Society Organisations
Albanian Daily News
Published February 8, 2018
The European Parliament in plenary debated, for the first time in its history, the increasing threats to rights organisations across the EU.
As part of the debate 'Shrinking Space for Civil Society', Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) from across the political spectrum voiced their concerns about national governments’ attempts to silence critical rights defenders. Vera Jourovà, EU Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, said that financial resources for civil society would be included in the EU budget as of 2020. (First suggested by Liberties in 2016.) Several MEPs also voiced the need to dedicate EU funding to civil society organisations within the EU.
“We are starting to see some EU governments using the same tactics as countries like Russia to muzzle groups trying to uphold human rights and democracy. The EU gives billions of euros to support rights groups in the rest of the world. But inside the EU, there is no funding to help organisations promoting European values. The biggest source of funding is the Norwegian government, followed by private foundations. The EU can’t go around preaching to the rest of the world and to its own governments about its fundamental values and then sit back and let others stump up the cash when it comes to its own population,” said Israel Butler, Head of Advocacy at Liberties.
Liberties has monitored the worsening situation of civil society in the EU. While the situation in Hungary is particularly severe, it is not the only EU country in which civil society groups face enormous difficulties in carrying out their work. In Poland, Romania, Ireland and Italy, the situation is also extremely serious. Almost everywhere across the EU, civil society groups are facing threats and growing restrictions. They include smear campaigns, funding cuts, strangulation by bureaucracy and withdrawal by public bodies hitherto offering consultation and cooperation. An overview is available here.