Civil society is an essential part of healthy democracies. We play a key role in promoting and protecting the rule of law and fundamental rights. We provide crucial and empowering services that enable people and societies to be more resilient in times of crisis, and more inclusive overall. We provide a platform for people – especially marginalised groups – to connect with policy-makers and participate in decisions that affect them.
Yet, civic space – the political, legislative, social and economic environment that enables people and civil society actors to play their role in shaping our societies – is shrinking all over the world, with growing restrictions at all levels. The EU and its Member States are no exception to this trend. Moreover, civil dialogue – the essential exchange between civil society and policy-makers – is not sufficiently open, transparent or regular, leading to a democratic deficit which means that many people living in the EU are uncatered for.
We envisage a European Union where civic space is strengthened and civil dialogue is valued and encouraged, so that we as civil society – including the philanthropy sector – can continue to exercise our vital role in achieving positive social outcomes and increased wellbeing for all.
We call on European political parties and groups to make civic space and civil dialogue central topics in the 2024 European elections, and on the future European Parliament and European Commission to take concrete steps during the next five years to better recognise, protect and engage civil society at all levels.