About European Civic Forum
European Civic Forum (ECF) is a pan-European network of more than 100 associations and NGOs across 29 European countries.
Founded in 2005 by our member organisations, we have spent nearly two decades working to protect civic space, enable civic participation and build civil dialogue for more equality, solidarity and democracy in Europe.
Who we are
Who we are
Our diverse network
Since 2005, we have built and developed a network of more than 100 associations and NGOs across 29 European countries. Our diverse membership includes:
- national platforms of NGOs uniting hundreds of thousands of NGOs, human rights advocacy, and campaigning organisations,
- big federations of associations deeply rooted in local constituencies,
- smaller organisations working in their communities or engaging with the public on local issues.
Click on the links below to explore our members and discover how to become an ECF member!
Our committed people
ECF is governed by the General Assembly of our members, which meets at least once a year.
The Board of Directors, made up of elected representatives from across our network, defines our overall strategy and work plan, and the Steering Committee implements these decisions.
Our staff team, based in Brussels and Paris, carries out our day-to-day work.
A Europe that delivers for all
Out of the ashes of the Second World War, a new Europe emerged with the promise of peace, prosperity, and democracy. In the decades that followed, we saw advancements in rights and democracy, victories against dictatorship and authoritarian regimes, and in the struggles to overcome colonialism, patriarchy and racism.
But today, these advances are being eroded. The growing audience for and electoral success of regressive populist agendas across Europe shows that current policies are not properly addressing people’s needs. We believe that Europe is our future, but another Europe is necessary, urgent and possible: one based on democracy, equality and solidarity, which puts people and the planet above economic interests, and which listens to and delivers for all of its inhabitants, leaving nobody behind.
This means implementing ambitious social and economic convergence policies to address the great inequalities within and between countries in Europe and the wider world. Associations and NGOs play a crucial role in bringing this vision to reality on a daily basis.
An enabling environment for civil society organisations
Associations are crucial for organising and representing people’s needs and aspirations to institutions. They have different tasks, statuses, and modus operandi from one country to another.
But everywhere they are on the frontline responding to people’s needs, bearing witness to the precarity so many face, fighting for their access to rights, and calling for policies that deliver for all.
We believe that a vibrant and independent civil society is vital for open civic space, healthy democracy and true social justice, as it allows people to organise, amplify their voices and be heard at all levels of government.
However, civil society is facing increasing challenges, including restrictive laws, stigmatisation, financial constraints, and even physical attacks.
We need a reversal of this trend. That means creating a truly enabling environment for civil society, where civic actors can thrive and perform their vital democratic role.
Protect and expand civic space
Civic space is the political, legislative, social and economic environment which enables citizens to come together, share their interests and concerns and act individually and collectively to influence and shape their societies.
An open, plural and dynamic civic space is a central feature of democratic societies because it allows people to engage politically beyond elections. It also encourages governments to be transparent and accountable.
In recent years, civic space has been shrinking. We want to reverse that trend: to protect and enhance civic space and to empower civic actors.
Boost #CivicPride and civil society resilience
Civil society organisations, social movements and activists are essential to democracy. They are often on the frontlines – mobilising, responding to social needs and defending fundamental rights and democratic frameworks.
Despite shrinking civic space and tough operating environments, these actors continue to work to make the world a better place.
Through our activities, including our #CivicPride campaign, we want to celebrate civic society, highlight success stories, support and build networks and enhance civic actors’ resilience.
Enable institutional and political dialogue
The potential of civil society to revive democracy depends on the institutions’ capacity and willingness to recognise and support civil society organisations and movements, engage in dialogue, and take their input into account.
We want to use our position in Brussels to further this aim by connecting European policymaking with grassroots initiatives, giving voice to our members’ concerns, fostering EU and national recognition and support, and engaging with international institutions to trigger policy cohesion.
You can learn more about our objectives by reading our strategic priorities for 2021-2025!
We advocate at the EU level by engaging directly with policymakers, participating in consultations, and working with our partners, particularly through alliances and networks like Civil Society Europe.
Our advocacy takes two forms:
- Ensuring EU policies respect and promote fundamental rights for all
- Calling on the EU to introduce structures and policies that create an enabling environment for civil society organisations and genuine civil dialogue – as envisioned in Article 11 of the Treaty on European Union.
Find out more about our different advocacy areas below!
Monitoring and reporting on civic space
Through our Civic Space Watch platform, we monitor and report on developments in civic space across Europe, as well as providing information and resources. Every year, we publish our Civic Space Report, which collects findings from a select group of countries in addittion to a horizontal analysis of civic space in Europe.
European Civic Forum is also a partner organisation of CIVICUS Monitor. We provide regular updates on civic space for the Monitor.
Network and capacity building
Since our founding, we have been committed to fostering ever-greater links within European civil society and to helping build structures that recognise the importance of the sector.
From the founding of the European Civic Forum in 2005, to the European Year of Citizens Alliance, and in turn the creation of Civil Society Europe and most recently to our European Convening in 2022, we work to connect civil society actors transnationally and cross-sectorally through conferences, forums and alliances.
European Civic Forum is a not-for-profit association, established under French law (association loi 1901). Our funding comes from grants from the EU and private foundations as well as members’ contributions and fees.
Read more about our funders, finances and statutes below!