In many parts of the European Union, civil society is under threat, according to a new report by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA). Given the role civil society plays in upholding democratic processes and in promoting human rights, decision makers need to ensure the important work of civil society is not undermined through policy and legal changes and funding cuts, it states. .
The ‘Challenges facing civil society organisations working on human rights in the EU’ report explores how the challenges vary across the EU. It points to:
- Threats, physical and verbal attacks against activists, as well as smear campaigns;
- Legal changes that negatively affect civil society, such as freedom of assembly restrictions, often a by-product of counter-terrorism laws;
- Shrinking budgets and increased difficulties in getting funding;
- Lack of appropriate involvement of civil society in law- and policy-making.
The report suggests promising best practices being used to address these challenges. RTWT
“A thriving democracy needs a healthy civil society. Unfortunately, the EU’s own civil society is facing a pattern of threats and pressures in many parts of the EU. Addressing this unacceptable situation should be a high priority for policy makers at EU and national levels,” says FRA Director Michael O’Flaherty
While there is a clear effort to crackdown on NGOs in Hungary and Poland, experts say that rights groups face threats across the bloc, EU Observer adds, noting that the centre-right European People’s Party has been pushing to restrict EU funds for NGOs.