Civil Society Europe sent today, together with the European Center for Not-For Profit Law and the European Foundation Center a letter urging the Commission to respond to the European Parliament’s proposal on the establishment of an EU mechanism on democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights.
CSE and its members believe that such a mechanism will help to safeguard the “EU values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities” as enshrined in article 2 of the EU Treaties.
Earlier this year Civil Society Europe, together with Civicus, conducted a survey on civic space in Europe in order to assess the perception of civil society organisations on key civic space freedoms (freedom of association, assembly, expression), challenges and opportunities, as well as their views on political trends in Europe. Although the framework and legal conditions for civic space are well in place in European Union countries, the survey results confirm some worrying developments in terms of the implementation of those rights. Of particular concern is the much lower rating of civic space by respondents from Central Eastern European Countries. According to the internal tracker of the European Center for Not-for-Profit Law, at least 12 legal initiatives over the past 2 years were launched or adopted in the EU countries that pose a threat to the freedoms of association or assembly.
Alarming reports from a number of organisations working on human rights and civic space as well as grassroots movements on the situation of civil society especially in Hungary, Poland and Croatia have reached us. Also in many other EU countries reports indicate deteriorating conditions and means resulting in a shrinking civic space.
A closing civic space is one of the signs of a broader problem in the implementation of fundamental rights. The strength of civil society is indeed a condition to a healthy democracy as civil society organisations boost participation in democracy and hold decision makers accountable to respect of fundamental rights. For this reason we are pleased that the proposal specifically includes: freedom of expression and freedom of assembly and association, the promotion of civic space and effective mechanisms for civil dialogue.
CSE urges therefore the European Commission to present a proposal by next autumn and to involve civil society organisations in its preparation.
Please find the full letter here: letter-to-mr-timmermans-on-the-establishment-of-a-eu-mechanism-on-democracy-the-rule-of-law-and-fundamental-rights