Where do we stand with the European civil society strategy?

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The endeavour of Reclaim Our Civil Space! started back in 2020 with 10 civil society organizations from 8 countries - Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia and Norway as an expert partner - and is coming to an end with this conference.

Venue: EFTA House Avenue des Arts 19H, 1000 Brussels, Belgium

Date: 12. October 2023


In the past three years we addressed the trends of democratic backsliding and shrinking civil space in Central and Southeastern Europe. We helped local organisations build their capacities, facilitated cross-border networking among them and brought the voice of civil society organisations to Brussels.

We put together a set of recommendations to develop a comprehensive EU civil society strategy and advocated for its adoption.

This conference serves the purpose to present these highlights of the project from local to European and to review the state of our proposals for the civil society strategy.

In addition, we will explore the potential next steps towards a comprehensive European civil society strategy at the conference with regard to the upcoming European elections next year.

Participation is free of charge, and the organisers can cover accommodation in Brussels and travel costs of registered participants.

Register here

Deadline: 11 September 2023


Tentative agenda

9.00-9.30 Arrival, registration

9.30-9.45 Opening and welcome

  • Nora Mehsen, Financial Mechanism Office

9.45- 11.15 Reclaim Our Civil Space! – from local to European: what did we achieve?

  • pecha-kucha presentations by project partners with Q&A

11.15-11.30 Coffee break

11.30-12.15 Regional cooperation and civil society in the EEA Grants – past and future

  • Ingrid Schulerud, Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (TBC)
  • panel discussion with project partners – Ekopolis Foundation (SK), Civil Society Development Foundation (RO)

12.15-12.30 Presentation of the FRA report: civil space developments in the EU in 2022-23

  • Waltraud Heller, EU Fundamental Rights Agency

12.30-13.30 Lunch break and networking

13.30-14.45 What has the EU done to protect and promote civil society?

Evaluation of current processes and what we hope for:

1) Follow-up of the Charter report

  • Giada Negri, ECF

2) Defense of Democracy package

  • Carlotta Besozzi, CSE

3) SLAPP directive

  • Francesca Fanucci, ECNL

4) Rule of Law report and recommendations

  • Linda Ravo, Liberties

5) Social Economy Action Plan implementation

  • Hanna Surmatz, Philea

Panel discussion with Q&A moderated by Veronika Móra (Ökotárs)

14.45-15.15 Legacy of the von der Leyen Commission vis-à-vis civil society – presentation

  • Joachim Herrmann, Member of the Cabinet of Commissioner Reynders

15.15-15.30 Coffee break

15.30-16.00 What can civil society expect from the European elections?

Introduction: "Civil society for EU" elections campaign on civic space and civil dialogue

  • Riccardo Rosella, Social Platform & Civil Society Europe

Debate with MEPs:

  • Erik Marquardt (Greens/EFA)
  • Anna Donáth (Renew)
  • René Repasi (S&D)
  • Andrzej Halicki (EPP)

Moderated by Laura de Bonfils, Social Platform

16.00-16.30 Closing and next steps

17.30 Reception


For more information please contact: Bálint Farkas at reclaimourcivilspace@gmail.com

Looking forward to seeing you!