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EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT: Shrinking space for civil society in Europe

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Report released by the European Parliament on 8 March 2022

The report asserts the crucial role of CSOs for rule of law, democracy and fundamental rights and values set out in Article 2 TEU. It also highlights the need for a safe and enabling environment for CSOs so they can occupy their legitimate space and fully participate to civil dialogue and policy-making. The report also emphasises the degradation of civic space among EU Member States.

The report then dives into three main concerns: the enabling regulatory and political environment free from chilling effects, threats and attacks; the sustainable and non-discriminatory access to resources; and civil dialogue and participation in policy-making.

Then the report urges the Commission to adopt a comprehensive civil society strategy for the protection and development of civic space within the Union. This strategy should outline a set of concrete measures that will protect and strengthen civic space, including by:

  • (a) introducing minimum standards for the legal and administrative environment of civil society;
  • (b) introducing a statute of European cross-border associations and non-profit organisations;
  • (c) setting up focal points between European institutions and civil society;
  • (d) ensuring consistent access to policy debates and agenda setting on Union level in line with the EU Treaties and the rules of procedures of EU institutions;
  • (e) strengthening access to monitor Union policies and the implementation of the Union budget;
  • (f) expanding flexible access to Union funding;