CSOs Open Letter to European and national leaders

08 June 2020 | Open letter

Text available in PDF here | Letter in Italian | Letter in French

UPDATE: on July 6, the European Civic Forum sent a follow-up letter to Mrs. Von der Leyen, Mr. Michel and Mr. Sassoli. You can read it here


Dear President of the European Commission, Ursula Von der Leyen
Dear Members of the European Parliament
Dear President of the European Council, Charles Michel
Dear Members of the Governments of EU Member States

CC: Vera Jourova, European Commission Vice-President on Values and Transparency
The Croatian Presidency of the EU Council
The forthcoming German Presidency of the EU council

On May 27th, the European Commission presented a strategy of overcoming negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and preparing the future for next generations (2020/98). It also presented a draft 7-year budget for the EU, which is intended to be an essential tool in achieving goals stated in the strategy (2020/442).

We appreciate that the strategy mentions the civil society as an important partner in facing the many challenges brought to our societies by the pandemic. However, we are deeply disappointed that civil society’s role is not adequately reflected in the draft budget. This mismatch is clearly manifested by a proposal to cut the volume of the Rights and Values Programme by over 20 per cent compared to the already very low figure proposed by the Commission in 2018. The Programme was intended to support projects implemented by civil society organisations promoting and protecting common European values of democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights. It will not be effective without adequate financial resources.

We would like to remind you that the civil society is an element of democracy’s critical infrastructure. CSOs serve their communities by safeguarding common European values enshrined in the Article 2 of the Treaty, and play key role in fostering European integration. With the outbreak of the pandemic, CSOs have proved their effectiveness and commitment to serving our societies and protecting foundational European values and norms. They have been active in supporting communities to better cope with the pandemic, including by providing social services to people at risk, such as the elderly, patients, people in quarantine, minorities, migrants and refugees. They launched projects boosting capacity of public healthcare institutions through support for medical workers, fundraising for hospitals, arranging medical equipment or running information campaigns about the pandemic. CSOs closely monitor the situation of human and civil rights during the lockdown and intervene when common European values are challenged. Their work will continue to be necessary to easing hardship caused by the pandemic to vulnerable social groups, to maintain social cohesion and solidarity, as well as to invigorate political legitimacy of the European project in the years after the pandemic.

Civil society organisations undertake all these activities while facing enormous financial constraints. Sources of funding for CSOs are becoming increasingly scarce – a process which accelerated with the outbreak of the pandemic.

We regret that the draft budget fails to acknowledge CSOs’ contribution to European societies. We also regret that the proposal ignores long-standing calls of hundreds of organisations from across the EU, and other actors (including the European Parliament and the European Economic and Social Committee) to increase support for CSOs. We are afraid that cutting the funds for the civil society will only aggravate the social and political problems that the EU will be facing in the coming years. It will also send a wrong signal about the EU’s commitment to its values and citizens’ rights.

We encourage you to rectify what appears to be a significant political mistake potentially affecting millions of European citizens.  We call on you to significantly increase the budget of the Rights and Values fund, optimally to the level demanded by the European Parliament, i.e. to 1.83 billion EUR (current prices).    

We will liaise with European and national institutions in order to make sure that the final Multiannual Financial Framework provides necessary means to civic organisations, which promote and protect common European rights and values on local, national and European levels.

We are looking forward to receiving a response to our concern. We are at your disposal for any clarification and constructive dialogue on this matter.



European Civic Forum, Europe • Stefan Batory Foundation, Poland • Bundesnetzwerk Bürgerschaftliches Engagement (B.B.E), Germany • Civic Alliance, Latvia • Civilisation coalition, Hungary • CNVOS, Slovenia • CROSOL, Croatia • De Verenigde Verenigingen, Belgium • Forum del Terzo Settore, Italy • Fundatia pentru Dezvoltarea Societatii Civile | Civil Society Development Foundation, Romania • Global Fokus, Denmark • Građanske Inicijative | Civic Initiatives, Serbia • Interessenvertretung Gemeinnütziger Organisationen | Interest Group of Public Benefit Organisations, Austria • Le Mouvement Associatif, France • National Federation of Polish NGOs (OFOP), Poland • Network of Estonian Nonprofit Organizations (NENO), Estonia • NISC, Lithuania • Ökotárs – Hungarian Environmental Partnership Foundation, Hungary • Solidarity Now, Greece • SPIRALIS, Czech Republic •  The Wheel, Ireland

Civil Society Europe, Europe  JEF Europe, Europe • European Disability Forum, Europe • European Youth Forum, Belgium • European Women’s Lobby, Belgium •  Philantropy Advocacy, Belgium European Digital Rights (EDRi), Europe • Autism-Europe, Europe ARCI, Italy • Hungarian Helsinki Committee, Hungary • Open Society Initiative for Europe (OSIFE), Europe • Transparency International EU, Belgium • PICUM, Europe • European Council For Refugees and Exiles, Europe • ACT Alliance EU, Belgium • ALDA – The European Association for Local Democracy, France • Board of EU-Russia Civil Society Forum, Germany • Volonteurope, Belgium • European Volunteer Centre – CEV, Europe • International Planned Parenthood Federation European Network, Belgium Rurality-Environment-Development, Europe Connecting Europe / European Policy Centre, Belgium • AEGEE / European Students’ Forum, Europe • Social Platform, Belgium • Alliance4Europe, Belgium • RECLAIM, Belgium European Union of the Deaf, Belgium • Mental Health Europe, Belgium Inclusion Europe, Europe• Association for International Affairs (AMO), Czech Republic • Polish Robert Schuman Foundation, Poland • Democracy and Human Rights Education in Europe – DARE network, Belgium • EuroClio – European Association of History Educators, Netherlands • Asociatia Grup de Actiune Locala Berceni, Romania • FECED Leul Albastru, Romania • Open Lithuania Foundation, Lithuania • Russian LGBT Network, Russia • EUROPEUM Institute for European Policy, Czech Republic • TERRA Milleniul III, Romania • Funky Citizens, Romania • AFEW International, Netherlands • Romanian Academic Society, Romania • Clean Air Action Group, Hungary • Asociatia Formare, Dezvoltare, Asistenta FORDA, Romania • CENTRAS – The Assistance Center for NGOs, Romania • Rights International Spain, Spain • Federation of Non-governmental Organizations for Social Services – FONSS, Romania • Asociatia Ecopolis, Romania • Fundatia PACT – Parteneriat pentru Actiune Comunitara si Transformare, Romania • Asociatia Eurolife, Romania • Antigone, Italy • FILIA Center, Romania • Asociatia ACCEPT, Romania • Institute for Public Affairs, Poland • Association for Legal Intervention, Poland • Fund for Global Human Rights, United Kingdom • Südost Europa Kultur, Germany • Foundation ClientEarth Prawnicy dla Ziemi, Poland • Center for Public Innovation, Romania • UNESCO IPL – People of African Descent & SDGs E Team, United Kingdom • Open Society Institute – Sofia Foundation, Bulgaria • Carpathian Foundation, Hungary • Europuls Centre of European Expertize, Romania • Federacja Znaki Równości, Poland • NGO Slovo 21, Czech Republic • Bulgarian Center for Not-for-Proit Law, Bulgaria • POLA – Lithuanian Cancer Patient Coalition, Lithuania • Netherlands Helsinki Committee, Netherlands • Access to Information Programme, Bulgaria • Ekopolis Foundation, Slovakia • Opportunity Associates, Romania • Fundatia Corona, Romania • Lithuanian Centre for Human Rights, Lithuania • Information Legal Centre, Croatia • Iniciatíva Inakosť, Slovakia • Fundacja Pole Dialogu, Poland • ActiveWatch, Romania • Lithuanian Gay League (LGL), Lithuania • Fundacja dla Wolności, Poland • Bulgarian Donors’ Forum, Bulgaria • DEMAS – Asssociation for Democracy Assistance and Human Rights, Czech Republic • Association for Community Relations (ARC), Romania • Center for Equality Advancement, Lithuania • Workshop for Civic Initiatives Foundation, Bulgaria • LSB Pakruojo skyrius, Lithuania • Freedom from religion foundation, Poland • Jewish Association Czulent, Poland • Bulgarian Helsinki Committee, Bulgaria • ePaństwo Foundation, Poland • Védegylet Egyesület, Hungary • Association for Supporting MDR TB Patients, Romania • Romanian Center for European Policies (CRPE), Romania • CEEweb for Biodiversity, Europe • Romani CRISS, Romania • Transcena Association, Romania • Pro Democracy Association, Romania • E-Romnja Association, Romania • ECPI-Euroregional center for Public Initiatives, Romania • ARTICLE 19, Global • CIVICA, Romania • Resource Center for Public Participation – CeRe, Romania • BlueLink Foundation, Bulgaria • Fundatia Centrul Parteneriat pentru Egalitate, Romania • Europe for Citizens contact point, Netherlands • Bulgarian Institute for Legal Initiatives Foundation (BILI), Bulgaria • UNITED for Intercultural Action, Netherlands • Human Rights Voice, Lithuania • The Barys Zvozskau Belarusian Human Rights House, Lithuania • ACI – Centro InterCulturaCidade, Portugal • Edukacja w Dzialaniu, Poland • HELP, Croatia • Urgent Action Fund for Women’s Human Rights, Global • Civil Rights Defenders, Sweden • Peace Institute, Slovenia • New Europeans AISBL, Belgium • European Movement, Italy  • Italian platform on the future of Europe, Italy • European House, Hungary • Central Council of German Sinti and Roma, Germany • Open Estonia Foundation, Estonia • Estonian Human Rights Centre, Estonia • European Roma Grassroots Organizations (ERGO) Network, Europe • Young, Active, Creative NGO, Bulgaria • Filia.die Frauenstiftung, Germany • Declic, Romania • Human Catalyst Association, Romania • Association for Integration and Migration, Czech Republic • Ecumenical Women’s Initiative – Prospera Women’s Funds Europe, Croatia • Association Students in Action, Bulgaria • Future for the Children Association, Bulgaria • World Organization Against Torture – OMCT, Global • Consortium of Migrants Assisting Organisations, Slovakia • The Advocacy Academy Association, Romania • FoRS – Czech Forum for Development Cooperation, Czech Republic • The Green Light for the Civil Initiatives Foundation, Bulgaria • Open Society European Policy Institute, Belgium • Peace Brigades International – Kenya Project, Kenya • Women Win, Netherlands • Mama Cash, Netherlands •  Zavod PIP – Pravni in informacijski center Maribor (Intitute PIP Maribor), Slovenia • Front Line Defenders, Ireland • Resource Center for Roma Communities, Romania • OEPG, Bulgaria • NGO “Future for Children”, Bulgaria • The Good Lobby, Belgium • Mertek Media Monitor, Hungary • Ukrainian Women’s Fund – Prospera Women’s Funds Europe, Ukraine • Reconstruction Women’s Fund – Prospera Women’s Funds Europe, Serbia • Economic Policy Institute, Bulgaria • End FGM European Network, Europe • Badesha za decata, Bulgaria • Life and Light Foundation, Romania • Hlas občianskych organizácií, Slovakia • Europos Namai, Lithuania • A Buon Diritto Onlus, Italy • Calala Fondo de Mujeres, Spain • Dare Association, Bulgaria • Association for Democratic Education – FAR, Bulgaria • APADOR-CH, Romania • Ravnovesie, Bulgaria • Spektrum rozvoje žen (Spiralis), Czech Republic • YOUTHub Association, Bulgaria • NGO Future for Children, Bulgaria • Citizens Against Bureaucracy Foundation, Bulgaria • НФГ “Гражданите”, Bulgaria • Vi Art, Bulgaria • Libera. Associazioni, nomi e numeri contro le mafie, Italy • Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS), Egypt • European Movement Finland, Finland • Protection International, Belgium • Association “Sustainability of progressive and open communication” , Bulgaria • Bucuresti Community Foundation, Romania • Society of German-Russian Relationships Münster/Münsterland, Germany • Centrul pentru Resurse Civice, Romania • OSF Prague, Czech Republic • La Strada International, Netherlands • Foundation ,,Our children’s joy”, Bulgaria • Fundatia de abilitare speranta, Romania • Turing School, Všį (NGO), Lithuania • Regional Roma Educational Youth Association – RROMA, North Macedonia • Help Autism Association, Romania • Network of non-profit organizations – ROTSA Romania – 90 NGOs, Romania • The Romanian Federation of Non-governmental Organizations for Child (FONPC), Romania • School with class Foundation, Poland • Nederlands Juristen Comité voor de Mensenrechten (NJCM), Netherlands • Prazelenina, z.s., Czech Republic •  Assistance and Programs for Sustainable Development-Agenda 21a, Romania • Institut für Europäische Politik, Germany • Civil Kozoktatasi Platform, Hungary • Malta Women’s Lobby, Malta • RNW media, Netherlands • Asociatia Divina Providenta, Romania • U3A, Lithuania • Tineri pentru Tineri, Romania • Za-Zrak (Facebook blog), Czech Republic • Trans European Policy Studies Association, Belgium • Autonapůl, družstvo, Czech Republic • Center for Civil Liberties, Ukraine • Bulgarian Fund for Women – Prospera Women’s Funds Europe, Bulgaria • Human Platform, Hungary • ADMD, France • Rodinné centrum Litomyšl, z.s., Czech Republic • Estonian LGBT Association, Estonia • 100MICI UL, z.s., Czech Republic • Sarivari, Czech Republic • Human Rights Monitoring Institute, Lithuania • Czech Women´s Lobby, Czech Republic • MRC Krteček Jeseník z.s., Czech Republic • ARISA, Netherlands • Östgruppen – Swedish Initiative for Democracy and Human Rights, Sweden Global Citizen’s Academy, Lithuania • COC Nederland, Netherlands • Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, Poland • International Commission of Jurists, Switzerland • Public Institution Roma Community Centre, Lithuania • Defence for Children Netherlands, Netherlands • Unhack Democracy, Belgium • Bulgarian Environmental Partnership Foundation, Bulgaria • Foundation for Lifelong Learning PERITIA, Poland • Society for Investigation Practices, Bulgaria • Public Environmental Centre for Sustainable Development, Bulgaria •  Romanian Women’s Lobby, Romania • Cyprus Women’s Lobby, Cyprus • Cyprus Antipoverty Network, Cyprus • Socialist Women’s Movement, Cyprus • Asociatia Traieste cu Bucurie, Romania • Fundatia de Spirijin Comunitar, Romania • Lindenfeld Association, Romania • Asociatia IHTIS, Romania • Fundatia Inima de Copil, Romania • Centrul Parteneriat pentru Egalitate – CPE, Romania • E-Romnja – Association for Promoting Roma Women’s Rights, Romania • Applied Research & Communications Fund, Bulgaria • Nyt Europa, Denmark • Open Society Foundation, Slovakia • Asociatia Atelierul de Bine, Romania • CNRR, Romania • Autism Romania, Romania • Mihai Eminescu Trust, Romania • Kontaktstelle Europa für Bürgerinnen und Bürger, Germany • “Open Republic” Association Against Anti -Semitism and Xenophobia, Poland • Defence for Children International, Switzerland • Citizens Network Watchdog Poland, Poland • Peace Brigades International (PBI) • Comunitatea ONedu Romania, Romania • Fundatia Edelweiss, Romania  DigiQ, Slovakia • European Exchange GmbH, Germany • Asociatia Lume Buna, Romania • Center for Equality Advancement, Lithuania Stowarzyszenie Lepszy Świat, Poland •  Romanian National Council for Refugees, Romania Defend Democracy, Belgium Civil Society Institute, Lithuania Association for Supporting Social Integration (ASIS), Romania • Progress Foundation, Romania • Fundacja Instytut Spraw Obywatelskich w Łodzi, Poland • DOTS Foundation for an Open Society, Latvia • Baltic Human Rights Society, Latvia • Latvian Centre for Human Rights, Latvia • Riga Jewish Community, Latvia • Mediterranean Institute of Gender Studies, Cyprus • Fundacja Alternatywnych Inicjatyw Edukacyjnych (Foundation of Alternative Educational Initiatives), Poland • CReA onlus, Italy • National Network of Educational NGOs, Lithuania • Italian Plateform on the conference of the Future of Europe, Italy • Europos namai (House of Europe), Lithuania • Regional Foundation for Local Development ZAMAH, Croatia • Friends of the European Republic, Germany • Latvian Association of Local and Regional Governments, Latvia • Fundacja Rozwoju Lokalnego Parasol, Poland • Sudetikus, z. s., Czech Republic • Letokruh z.ú., Czech Republic • FRIENDS of Europe asbl, Belgium • Dypall Network, Portugal • National Network for Children, Bulgaria • Transparency International, Romania • Chaloupky, Czech Republic • Fundacja Czarna Owca Pana Kota, Poland • Science for Environment Foundation, Poland • Fundacja Inicjatyw Społeczno – Gospodarczych Komes, Poland • Organizatia Hutul-Eko Brodina, Romania FNGAL, Romania GAL VALEA PRUTULUI, Romania• UMA ED ROMANIA Association, Romania • Europe for Citizens, Contact Point, Germany Städtepartnerschaftsverein Schönebeck (Elbe) e.V., Germany
, Romania Institute of International and European Affairs (IIEA), Dublin, Ireland EUROPEJSKA KUŹNIA KULTURY I ROZWOJU, Poland VIS MAJOR STOWARZYSZENIE, Poland • Fundation Maturita, Poland • Fundacja Życzliwy Przedsiębiorca w Polsce, Poland Fundacja Inicjowania Rozwoju Społecznego, Poland Stowarzyszenie “Lokalna Grupa Działania Pojezierze Brodnickie”, Poland • Down Art Therapy Association, Romania Stowarzyszenie Wadowickie Inicjatywy Obywatelskie, Poland Orasul Isaccea, Romania Stowarzyszenie Projektow Miedzynarodowych INPRO, Poland •  ASOCIATIA IMPREUNA PENTRU DEZVOLTAREA COMUNITATII – AIDC, Romania • Polish Donors Forum, Poland • Stowarzyszenie Obrony Praw Obywatelskich i Wolności Słowa, Poland • Koszalińska Agencja Rozwoju Regionalnego S.A., Poland • Fundacja MIERZ WYSOKO, Poland • Asociatia Playful Psychology, Romania • Asociatia Autism Transilvania Cluj-Napoca, Romania