civil society

Europeanising civic space: Civitates commits grants to enhance collaboration and connections

For a thriving civic space across Europe, there is a need for civil society to collaborate and to have the opportunity to better connect national efforts to those at the EU level. Our coalition partners share that collaboration takes different forms such as participating in cross-border projects or peer exchanges with other civil society actors or coalitions; having an active membership in European networks; and alerting the European community on negative developments in their respective countries.

Italian civil society as an “antidote” to the crisis of democracy

The NGO Osservatorio Balcani Caucaso e Transeuropa (OBCT) – a think tank focused on South-East Europe, Turkey and the Caucasus founded more than 20 years ago – published the report “Italian civil society: from target to antidote to the crisis of democracy?”. The research, supported by Civitates, is part of the project “Winning the Narrative”, which aims to respond to the shrinking space for non-governmental organisations, renewing their narratives, especially on migration issues.

The OBCT team found that civil society in Italy has both strengths and weaknesses. It is fundamental to preserve the rule of law, but this role of “antidote” is endangered by the rise of populism, that followed the 2015 migrant crisis. This explains the question mark at the end of the title: Italian civil society is still working to recuperate its space of safeguard for democracy.

The Czech presidency of the EU Council: an opportunity for civil society to collaborate and strengthen democracy

To understand what is at stake during the Czech Presidency and how non-governmental organisations are contributing to the debate around the EU priorities, we spoke with Jana Miléřová, a coordinator at Glopolis, a backbone organisation of the NeoN platform. NeoN, a Civitates grantee partner, is an informal network that associates 15 thematic platforms from the Czech Republic, putting together more than 400 NGOs. It coordinates advocacy actions for the democratic sphere. They are working towards promoting a stronger civic space a priority during the Czech Presidency of the EU Council.


Independent public-interest journalism and CSOs collaborating for stronger democracy

In many countries, both media and civil society organisations (CSOs) face the same challenges such as restricted access to information, smear campaigns, legal and practical limitations for accessing funding, as well as limited space for the exchanges of best practices – all a result of the shrinking civil space. Collaboration between journalistic organisations and CSOs can counter those trends, advance their work, have a powerful societal impact, and strengthen democracy.