Press release by Council of the EU, published on consilium.europa.eu on 10/03/2023 – accessible here.
The Council today approved conclusions on the role of civic space in protecting and promoting fundamental rights in the EU.
The conclusions emphasise the essential role freedom of association plays in ensuring a democratic and pluralist society and the proper functioning of public life. Unjustified restrictions to the operating space of civil society organisations and human rights defenders can present a threat to the rule of law.
The Council invites member states to safeguard and promote an enabling environment for civil society organisations and human rights defenders. It calls on them to protect the civic space by ensuring no unnecessary or arbitrary restrictions are adopted, and to actively protect civil society organisations and human rights defenders from threats, attacks, persecution and smear campaigns. Civil society organisations and human rights defenders must also be safe and able to act independently in the digital space.
The conclusions call on member states to tackle challenges related to funding by ensuring fair distribution through transparent and non-discriminatory criteria. They are also invited to empower civil society organisations by ensuring meaningful participation when drafting and implementing legislation and policy measures.
The Council also invites the Commission to continue providing adequate and accessible funding, simplify open calls and continue to use innovative approaches. The Commission is asked to enable civil society organisations and human rights defenders to contribute at relevant steps of decision-making and to be involved in a meaningful way across policy and legislative areas. The Commission is invited to follow up on its commitments under the 2022 Charter report and to launch a dialogue with stakeholders on how the EU can further protect, support and empower civil society organisations and human rights defenders.
The Council conclusions approved today were prepared in the light of the Commission’s annual report for 2022 on the application of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU, which focuses on the empowerment of civil society organisations, human rights defenders and justice practitioners as key actors in a democracy.
- Council conclusions on the role of the civic space in protecting and promoting fundamental rights in the EU (full text of the conclusions)
- European Commission 2022 Annual report on the application of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU (press release, 6 December 2022)
- Protection and promotion of human rights (background information)