Invitation - Countering shrinking civil space in central and eastern European EU member states workshop

Ökotárs – Hungarian Environmental Partnership Foundation, Autonomia Foundation, Foundation for the Development of Democratic Rights, Carpathian Foundation-Hungary hosted by Benedek Jávor, Member of the European Parliament cordially invites you to the workshop

Civil society organizations play a vital role in the upholding of European values on the local and on national levels, in the development of good governance and democracy as well as in helping communities to organize themselves for the public good. At the same time, a shrinking of civil space can be observed globally, as more and more governments create legal, administrative and financial barriers to the free operation of civil society organizations. Although less pronounced, this trend is present within the EU as well, especially in some of its new Member States.

Taking the case of Hungary, the event will walk through the developments of the past few years, outline the present situation and working environment of civil society organizations in Central Europe, as well as attempt to formulate proposals for improvement. It will provide an opportunity to debate the role and responsibilities of European institutions towards civil society and the possible steps they can take to counter the closing of civil space in our continent.

Draft programme:


  • The phenomenon of closing civil space – trends, symptoms and perspectives: the UN’s observations

Paul d'Auchamp, acting Regional Representative, United Nations Office of the High Commissioner of Human rights

  • The situation of independent civil society in Central and Eastern Europe and Hungary – a closer look

Barbara Erős, strategy director, Foundation for the Development of Democratic Rights

  • The domestic funding environment of NGOs and the example of the EEA NGO Programme

András Nun, director, Autonomia Foundation, Boglárka Bata, director Carpathian Foundation

  • The need for European support to civil society development – the EU’s role in countering closing space and possible ways forward:

Veronika Móra, director, Ökotárs – Hungarian Environmental Partnership Foundation

  • The response of European foundations - cooperation within civil society

            Gerry Salole, Chief Executive, European Foundation Centre


Reflections and panel discussion with the speakers and delegated representatives of the European Commission:

Christian Strasser, European Commission Directorate-General for Environment

Key questions:

  • what are the roles and functions of CSOs in addressing the challenges Europe is facing?
  • countering shrinking civil space – why CSO support is more needed than ever before?
  • the characteristics of civic organizing – why CSOs funding needs a different approach (as compared to other sectors)?
  • the key to efficient CSO support – what are the features of CSO-friendly funding mechanisms?
  • what is needed to improve the access of CSOs to European funding programs?

The seminar will be accompanied by coffee, a photo exhibition and video screening of projects supported within the framework of the EEA NGO Programme in Hungary.

About the speakers:

  • Veronika Móra has been working with the Hungarian Environmental Partnership Foundation since 1997 and holds the position of the director since 2007. Read more
  • Barbara Erős is currently holding the position of program manager of EEA/Norwegian NGO Programme at DemNet Hungary. Read more
  • Boglárka Bata is the chief grant-making program officer (since 2005) and CEO (since 2008) of the Carpathian Foundation-Hungary. Read more
  • András Nun is a development expert in the field of Roma integration and NGO development with 20 years’ experience. Read more
  • Gerry Salole is the chief executive of the European Foundation Centre (EFC) since 2005. Read more
  • Paul d’Auchamp, a political scientist by training, began his career as Chief of Section in the Employment and Integration Administration of the City of Copenhagen. Read more


Logistic information:

The event is open to the public – in order to gain access to the European Parliament, please register here until 30 September:

To open the registration sheet click HERE

Your identity document will be necessary to enter the Altiero Spinelli building – please allow time to pass registration and security.

The workshop will be in English, interpretation will not be provided.

Download the presentations here:

The situation of independent civil society in Central Europe and in Hungary

The EEA NGO Programme in Hungary

The EEA NGO Programme and the controversy about civil society in Hungary

The EU’s role in countering closing civil space


Supported by

The views expressed at the event do not necessarily reflect those of the donor countries of the EEA Grants.