Relationship Status: It’s complicated. Civil Society Organisations and the EU.

In 2018, during the Austrian Presidency of the EU Council, IGO joined forces with the European Civic Forum in carrying forward the legacy of civil society forums in countries holding the EU Presidencies over the last ten years.

A recent report by Civil Society Europe shows there is a desire for the European Union to play a greater role in upholding democratic principles and setting guidelines to ensure an enabling environment for civil society.

Wednesday, 21 November 2018

Article 11 of the Lisbon Treaty commits the “institutions” – including the European Council and its 28 members – to an “open, transparent and regular dialogue with representative associations and civil society”. Yet, the reality often shows a different picture: in many Member States civil society organizations are either ignored or facing open hostility. In addition, the scarcity or conditionality of public funding is restricting civic organisations’ ability to take action to ensure access to fundamental rights for all.

On day one, participants were primarily those in charge and members or employees of civil society organizations from Austria and abroad. Working language was English.

Picture Gallery Day 1.

Welcome and Opening

  • Franz NEUNTEUFL, IGO, Vienna
  • Iva TARALEZHKOVA, Bulgarian Citizen Participation Forum, Sofia
  • Jean Marc ROIRANT, European Civic Forum, Paris

Panel 1 – All for rights and rights for all: the state of civic space and fundamental rights in today’s European Union

With contributions from

  • Veronika MORA, Hungarian Enviromental Partnership Foundation, Budapest
  • Waltraud HELLER, European Fundamental Rights Agency, Wien
  • Dr Vedran DZIHIC, Austrian Institute for International Affairs, Vienna
  • Alexandrina NAJMOWICZ, European Civic Forum, Paris (Moderation)

Panel 2Funding civil society activities with public money: Too much to die, too little to live

With contributions from

  • Judith PÜHRINGER, arbeitplus, Vienna
  • Jean Marc ROIRANT, European Economic and Social Committee, European Civic Forum & Civil Society Europe, Brussels
  • Dr Daniela BANKIER, European Commission, DG Justice, Programme and Financial Management Unit, Brussels
  • Franz NEUNTEUFL, IGO, Wien (Moderation)

Outlook on the Romanian EU Presidency from a civil society point of view

  • Iuliana RADA, Civil Society Development Foundation, Bukarest.

Thursday, 22 November 2018

Article 2 has a prominent place in the EU treaties, yet a vast gap exists between these rights and values and their exercise and implementation. In Europe today, rights and liberties are increasingly sacrificed in the name of austerity, security, anti-terrorism or money laundering, transparency or business secrecy.

This was the starting point for the inputs and panel discussions on the second day of the event. Working language here was German.

Picture Gallery Day 2.

Welcome and Opening

  • Dr Jörg WOJAHN, Representation of the European Commission in Austria, Vienna
  • Dr Alexander VAN DER BELLEN, Federal President of the Rep. of Austria – Video Message
  • Franz NEUNTEUFL, IGO, Vienna

Panel 1Make Europe Great for All: about the spaces between values& policies

With contributions from

  • Andreas SCHIEDER, Candidate to the European Parliament, SPÖ, Vienna
  • Dr Daniela BANKIER, European Commission, DG Justice, Programme and Financial Management Unit, Brussels
  • Dr Michaela MOSER, European Anti-Poverty Network, Vienna
  • Dr Frank HEUBERGER, Bundesweites Netzwerk Bürgerschaftliches Engagement, Berlin (Moderation)

Keynote

  • Karoline EDTSTADLER, State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Interior, Vienna

Panel 2Climate change in politics: how can we go against the tides in the EU?

  • Dr Othmar KARAS, Austrian MEP, ÖVP, Brussels
  • Leonore GEWESSLER, Global 2000 | Friends of the Earth, Vienna
  • Verena RINGLER, European Commons, Innsbruck – Vienna
  • Franz NEUNTEUFL, IGO, Vienna

Closing Remarks

  • Franz NEUNTEUFL, IGO
  • Alexandrina NAJMOWICZ, European Civic Forum, Paris.

 

United in diversity – this is the official motto of the European Union since the year 2000. Growing inequalities, the ever-widening gap between rich and poor and populist politics endanger the unity in an increasing way.

In order to fight social divisions, the European Civic Forum launched a campaign in February called “#MEGA-Make Europe Great for all”, which is to run for 2 years. It is based on the conviction, that our common future lies only in a united Europe. In its own manifesto, the future image of a more democratic Europe is drawn, in which social and environmental concerns are more important as economic interests. The focus lies also on inclusive and sustainable solutions to the problems of all European citizens. Central to the manifesto is also the call for European policy, which takes active measures in terms of cohesion and against all forms of inequalities. Furthermore, the campaign also aims to raise awareness for the role of civil society in the Union.

In the course of the campaign, events are organized in many European member states, which provide space for the exchange of views on the manifesto and its demands. This year’s event of IGO, which will take place in November 2018 and is titled “Relationship status: It’s complicated. Civil Society Organisations and the European Union “, is part of this series of events.

Article 11 of the Lisbon Treaty requires the institutions – and this includes the European Council and its 28 members – to “maintain an open, transparent and regular dialogue with representative associations and civil society”.

The reality often shows a different picture: in many Member States civil society organizations are either ignored or facing open hostility.

In this context, IGO – the Interest Group of Public Benefit Organizations has already organized a dialogue in and with Austrian civil society twice: 2016 focused on charitable law, 2017 on the future of democracy. In 2018, during the Austrian Presidency of the EU Council, IGO joins forces with the European Civic Forum in carrying forward the legacy of civil society forums in countries holding the EU Presidencies over the last ten years.

We are pleased to launch the invitation to a two (half)day long discussion regarding the role and challenges faced by civil society organizations in Austria and in the European Union in their daily work and relations with the governing institutions.

On day one, the invitation primarily goes to those in charge and members or employees of civil society organizations from Austria and abroad. Working language will be English.

On day two, in addition to those attending on day one, representatives of Austrian and European institutions as well as all interested citizens are invited. Working language will be German. For simultaneous translation English – German will be taken care of.

Participation is free of charge. Limited space. Registrations will be considered in the order of their receipt.

Full program and registration here

So far, IGO has hardly been involved outside Austria. The forthcoming EU Presidency of Austria in the second half of 2018, however, justifies stronger networking and cooperation with NGOs and associations in other member states and in Brussels, which pursue similar goals as IGO.

For this reason, IGO CEO Franz Neunteufl participated in November 2017 in the Forum on the State of Civil Society and Civic Space in Europe, organized by the Estonian NGO umbrella organization Hea Kodanik. Now, from May 29th to 31st, he has accepted the invitation of the Bulgarian Citizen Participation Forum to the Civic Days in Sofia.

These events are co-organized and co-funded by the Paris-based European Civic Forum (ECF).

This also applies to this year’s CIVIL SOCIETY IN DIALOGUE event of IGO on 21st and 22nd November, which this year, on the occasion of the Austrian Presidency, will address the situation of civil society organisations in the member states and their contribution to a united Europe.