In this own-initiative opinion the European Economic and Social Committee calls on the European institutions to promote a positive image of CSOs, preserve their independence and strengthen their capacity for action.
Beside a detailed diagnosis of the situation and role of civil society organisations, the EESC presents 26 recommendations for better civil dialogue and access to resources, including ideas for the post-2020 Multiannual Financial Framework.
The EESC finds that financing of CSOs is essential for participatory democracy and that the article 11 of the TEU on structured dialogue with civil society must be properly implemented.
Civil society organisations or NGOs do receive EU financial support (co-funding) either for projects or for policy work as structural funding. However, access to EU funding remains quite difficult for many associations as procedures are quite complicated and the administration is burdensome. Programmes that are more specifically targeted at citizen’s engagement at EU level are not adequately resourced. In addition, there is a lack of transparency and consistency of audit procedures because of diverging interpretation of rules in place and lack of harmonisation.
The opinion will contribute to reviewing the state of the art as regards the distribution and effectiveness of EU funding as contributing to participatory democracy and citizenship and will make recommendations in view of the review of the EU funding priorities.
The opinion could contribute to the current discussions and decision on revised financial regulations, and the upcoming proposal for a Multi Annual Financial Framework after 2020, as well as to the implementation of Article 11 of TEU on civil.
EESC calls also for the establishment of an EU Ombudsman on civic space freedoms and of a European fund for democracy, human rights and values within the EU.