What is Civic Space?

What does civic space mean? Put simply, civic space is the political, legislative, social and economic environment which enables citizens to come together, share their interests and concerns and act to influence and shape their societies. Civic space enables people to pursue multiple, at times competing, points of view both indivudally and collectively.

How do you measure civic space?

European Civic Forum bases its analysis of civic space in Europe on five elements that we believe are crucial for an open and vibrant civic space:

1. A conducive political, cultural and socio-economic landscape: the historical legacy on political culture, together with socio-economic structures and contingent events profoundly shape the public’s understanding of the role of civil society and the values it embodies, the activities it pursues, thus influencing public trust and support.

2. The respect of civic freedoms: a supportive legal and regulatory framework for civic freedoms, in particular freedom of association, freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of expression, and its effective implementation ensure the full-stretching, correct functioning and protection of civil society space. Governing bodies have the duty to protect the civic space, refrain from, investigate and discipline actions, laws and statements that threat civic freedoms.

3. A supportive framework for CSOs’ financial viability and sustainability: supportive legislation on funding, including foreign and international funding, and availability of sufficient and predictable resources are crucial to civil society’s capacities, independence and long-term strategic planning.

4. The dialogue between civil society and governing bodies: governing bodies must pursue policies and narratives that empower citizens and their organisations to be meaningfully engaged in the public debate and policy-making.

5. Civil society’s responses to challenges to democracy, rule of law and fundamental rights.

Civic Space Watch

Civic Space Watch collects findings and analyses from actors in Europe on the conditions for civil society to operate, capturing national and trans-European trends in civic space.  Through ongoing monitoring of social media and regular contact and interviews with a strong network of members and partners on the ground, we strive to provide easy access to resources and improve information sharing within civil society across Europe  with, policy-makers and the media.