Financing of civil society is essential for democracy

Financing of civil society

The EU institutions should promote a positive image of civil society organisations, preserve their independence and ensure they are properly funded, says the EESC

In a political climate that is becoming increasingly hostile to civic action, the European Union must confirm the importance of the role played by civil society organisations (CSOs), said the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) at its October plenary session.

Presenting the own-initiative opinion on the Financing of civil society organisations by the EU, rapporteur Jean-Marc Roirant (Various Interests, FR) said that the EESC had set out over 25 recommendations for strengthening relations between CSOs and the EU and for improving their access to funding.

Mr Roirant noted that this call for action was well-timed, as the EU institutions were preparing to launch discussions on the post-2020 multiannual financial framework (MFF).

"The EU institutions", he said, "must loudly say that CSOs are vital".

The EESC recommended that discussions resume on a statute for European associations and that Article 11 of the Treaty, on civil society dialogue, must be further implemented.

The EESC called for increased funding for CSOs and for the Europe for Citizens programme to be given a budget of EUR 500 million under the next MFF.

The EESC also called for the establishment of an EU Ombudsman on civic space freedoms. (ll)