In December 2022, European Civic Forum and Civil Society Europe convened over 100 representatives of civil society, EU and international institutions and donors to discuss how to enable, protect and expand Europe’s civic space. It was the biggest step yet in the ongoing calls for a European Civil Society Strategy. This work will now feed into a pan-European campaign ahead of the 2024 elections.
How can we enable, protect and expand Europe’s civic space, for greater social and environmental justice and democracy for all? On 5 and 6 December, the European Civic Forum, in cooperation with Civil Society Europe, gathered together over 100 representatives of civil society, EU and international institutions and donors to engage in this overarching strategic question. The goal of the meeting was to build trust among actors with diverse backgrounds and identify concrete action needed to create an enabling space in the EU, including a pan-European campaign on the European Civil Society Strategy ahead of the 2024 European elections.
Pendant 2 jours, @VoxPublic_ a participé à le belle rencontre @EuCivilsociety pour croiser les regards et réalités d’associations européennes sur l’espace démocratique et ses restrictions croissantes, puis ouvrir un dialogue avec plrs https://t.co/Z0YNBT2xTp de la Commission. ✊ pic.twitter.com/Skp0aXa43Y
— VoxPublic (@VoxPublic_) December 7, 2022
The meeting was professionally facilitated to be fully participatory and horizontal in order for all perspectives, ideas, and challenges to be openly engaged with and explored, in a trusted space. We discussed how to increase resilience, sustainability and impact; how institutions can support civic actors when they are criminalised or attacked; how co-creation and co-programming can improve the accessibility and impact of EU funding; how to ensure diversity and inclusion in civil society’s leadership, and more!
Joining @EUCivicForum‘s Conference w/ #CivilSociety from across 🇪🇺 to discuss the upcoming Defence of #democracy package. We need to continue our support to developing civic space and citizen participation to bolster democratic resilience from within 🇪🇺. pic.twitter.com/hrLCCR1Q0N — Věra Jourová (@VeraJourova) December 5, 2022
European Commission Vice-President for Values and Transparency Věra Jourová joined the convening in an active listening mode to hear the ideas that emerged from the discussion as a contribution to the preparations of the upcoming Defence of Democracy package.
The second day ended with a policy dialogue with representatives of EU institutions, including Marie-Helene Boulanger, Head of Unit, Union Citizenship Rights and Free Movement, DG JUST; Florian Geyer, Head of Unit, Justice Policy and Rule of Law, DG JUST; Katju Holkeri, Head of Unit, Ministry of Finance, Finland; Ima Gomez Lopez, Evaluation & Impact Assessment, Regulatory Scrutiny Board Secretariat, Secretary General; MEP Sergey Lagodinsky, Member of the Legal Affairs Committee; Waltraud Heller, Project Manager, Institutional Cooperation and Networks Unit, Fundamental Rights Agency, and Alva Finn, Member of the Steering Committee, Civil Society Europe .
This policy dialogue was an opportunity for participants to engage with policymakers on the strategic priorities identified and prefigure input towards ongoing policy opportunities, such as the Rule of Law report and the Defence of Democracy package. We discussed the need to improve the accessibility of EU funding and extend the intermediary approach introduced with the Citizens Equalities Rights and Values Programme (CERV) to other EU programmes. We also discussed how to strengthen civil dialogue and civil society participation in EU policymaking and how to ensure that the Rule of Law process and Defence of Democracy package support civil society under pressure. The convening was the biggest step yet in the ongoing campaign for a European Civil Society Strategy. European Civic Forum and Civil Society Europe will now take this work forward and build momentum for a pan-European campaign for the 2024 European elections. Stay tuned for the event report and for news on the campaign!