The EESC issues between 160 and 190 opinions and information reports a year.
It also organises several annual initiatives and events with a focus on civil society and citizens’ participation such as the Civil Society Prize, the Civil Society Days, the Your Europe, Your Say youth plenary and the ECI Day.
The EESC brings together representatives from all areas of organised civil society, who give their independent advice on EU policies and legislation. The EESC's326 Members are organised into three groups: Employers, Workers and Various Interests.
The EESC has six sections, specialising in concrete topics of relevance to the citizens of the European Union, ranging from social to economic affairs, energy, environment, external relations or the internal market.
Organised by: Philanthropy Europe Association and the European NGO confederation for relief and development (CONCORD) in cooperation with the EESC section for External Relations (REX) and the EESC Ad hoc Group on Fundamental Rights and the Rule of Law (FRRL)
Moderated by: Alexandrina Najmowicz, European Civic Forum
12.00-12.30 Setting the current state of play of civil society space
Ionuţ Sibian, EESC member, Civil Society Development Foundation in Romania (contributed to 2019 EESC opinion on Philanthropy), president of the EESC Western Balkans Follow-up Committee
Waltraud Heller, Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA)
Filip Pazderski, author of the EESC study "Examining how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the work of civil society organisations (CSOs) across Europe"with involvement of Civil Society Europe, the European Civic Forum, European Center for Not-for-Profit Law and Institute for Public Affairs
12.30-13.40 Roundtable – Strengthening Civil Society and the philanthropy space in the EU andbeyond
Santina Bertulessi, Member of Cabinet Commissioner Schmit
Friederike Tschampa, Deputy Head of Division EEAS Global Human Rights
Cristian Pîrvulescu, President of the EESC’s Ad hoc Group on Fundamental rights and the Rule of Law
Vera Mora, Ökotárs Foundation, Hungary
13.40-14.00 Closing remarks
Kasia Hanula-Bobbitt, Concord
Hanna Surmatz, Philea
Civil Society Space (including philanthropy space) is challenged globally as well as in Europe. This session will look at key trends/challenges around civil society including philanthropy space as well as discussing sector and policy recommendations to reverse this trend.
The session will start with a short overview on the situation of civil society space
It will discuss potential EU policy solutions for inside EU and external civil society organisations
In 2012, the European Union published a Communication on "the roots of democracy and sustainable development: Europe's engagement with civil society in external action". This document set three priority areas for EU support to civil society in partner countries: an enabling environment, meaningful and structured participation, and capacity strengthening. More recently in 2017, the European Consensus on Development and Council Conclusions on "the EU engagement with civil society in external relations" reaffirmed the important role of civil society in upholding democracy, human rights, the rule of law and social justice, and as key partners for the achievement of Agenda 2030. The EU confirmed its commitment to support Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), including through capacity building, and to strategically involve them in programmes and all areas of cooperation.
Currently the European Parliament is working on different initiatives that are relevant in this area such as one report on civil society space, see draft report and one recently approved report on a European Statute for Associations and NPOs. The European Commission recently published an Action Plan for Social Economy, which also includes some recommendations for a more enabling space for social actors including associations, foundations, mutual societies and co-operatives.
Additionally, there are ongoing consultations on civic space being conducted by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights that will assess the shape of the space for civil society in Europe.
Why this panel?
The panel should look at strategies to promote an enabling environment for civil society including philanthropy with a focus on better recognition of the sector, increase civil dialogue and an overall better operating space and protection mechanisms and financing opportunities.