Following a plenary debate monday which took stock of the role of civil society in the face of the challenges and threats stemming from Putin’s aggression in Ukraine, MEPs voted on Tuesday in favor of proposals aimed at countering the repression of civil society in Europe, with 526 votes for, 115 against, and 54 abstentions.
Parliament’s proposals revolve around three key areas:
- an enabling regulatory and policy environment free from disincentives, threats and attacks;
- sustainable and non-discriminatory access to resources; and
- civil dialogue and participation in policy-making.
Parliament underlines the continued deterioration of civil society freedoms (also in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic), as well as the obligation of the EU and its Member States to ensure an enabling environment for civil society organisations. civil society (CSO). He condemns physical and verbal attacks against CSO representatives while stressing that those working on migration in particular should not be criminalized. It also deplores “the outsourcing by public authorities of public service missions to CSOs” and is concerned about the emergence of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) organized by the State.
The report calls for a “European Civic Space Index” and a comprehensive civil society strategy, which should include, among other things, common minimum legal and administrative standards for CSOs across the EU and a statute for European cross-border associations and non-profit organisations. EU funding should be more flexible and made available to more organisations.
Rapporteur Anna Júlia Donáth (Renew, HU) said: “The civil helpers on our borders with Ukraine ask us to support their work, as they represent justice and a more human approach, in line with the fundamental values of the They ask us to defend them, so that they can do their job undisturbed, and to protect them from oppressive governments that persecute them by learning from the example of Russia. in our neighbourhood, Parliament’s call for a framework to protect European civil society is all the more important.”
The global crackdown on civil society is rapidly becoming more severe, with some member states introducing restrictive laws. In his 2020 reportthe EU Fundamental Rights Agency found that 57% of national and local organizations said the situation had “deteriorated” or “severely deteriorated” in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.