Threats to democracies and worrying trends are emerging across Europe. One of the ways to counter these tendencies is to monitor civic space and join forces to organise campaigns and initiatives to defend democratic space.

 

European Civic Forum launch Civic Space Watch

Last week I had the honour of participating in the launch of the European Civic Forum’s (ECF) Civic Space Watch (www.civicspacewatch.eu), a collaborative tool to share resources and create a new alert system for NGOs, citizens and journalists to counter the threat of civic space erosion.

 

The event was very interesting and thought provoking and it saw the participation of several CSOs and EU institutions’ representatives, generating a lively discussion in the room. The event was opened by Jean Marc Roirant president of the ECF and Alexandrina Najmowicz, director of the ECF, followed by the presentation of the new tool and a short testimony of the Polish journalist Martin Mycielski, author of #LearnfromEurope.

 

The aim of the new platform is not to duplicate the work already done by several organisations such as the CIVICUS Civic Space Monitor but to provide easy access to existing data, studies, legislations and information, creating a one point information source to find updates on civic space in Europe and stimulate more awareness on the situation and together counter the threatens to democracy. For example during the event one of the participants talked about ILGA-Europe’s #PrideWatch campaign to monitor the freedom and safety of Pride events in Europe.

 

Our partner the European Civic Forum invites now activists, researchers and active citizens to input information on the online tool and share with the community their resources and information to populate the Civic Space Watch.

 

FRA launches a new report “Challenges facing civil society organisations working on human rights in the EU”

EU Institutions are also paying attention to shrinking civic space. The week was concluded with the presentation at the European Economic and Social Committee of a new report of the EU Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) “Challenges facing civil society organisations working on human rights in the EU“. At the event, FRA Director Michael O’Flaherty presented the study which looks at the different types and patterns of challenges faced by civil society organisations working on human rights in the EU.

 

The report recognises that civil society organisations play a crucial role in promoting fundamental rights in the EU, and they also contribute to the functioning of democracies. The new report contains a number of recommendations directed at civil society organisations and at EU decision-makers.

 

Do not forget to share your news and information on the Civic Space Watch.

 

Let’s all be vigilant in protecting our democratic space and together fight threats to democracy.

 

 

Laura de Bonfils