Financial accountability of civil society organisations: Improving cooperation with EU institutions

08-05-2015

Over recent decades Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) – a term used to capture all forms of collective organisation outside the government and business sectors – have grown in both number and impact on policy-making, both at EU and national levels. In consequence, CSOs have come under pressure to demonstrate that they use the public resources they are given in an efficient, accountable and transparent manner. A number of proposals to address these topics have been discussed over the years. However, only a few of those proposals have been translated into law; and even fewer of these, after being implemented, have offered an effective solution to the issue of financial accountability of the third sector. The debate between scholars, institutions and practitioners is still ongoing. In the meantime, the third sector at the European level remains regulated by a combination of European norms, quasi-legal tools, and self-regulatory initiatives. Efforts to tackle financial mismanagement by CSOs are frustrated by the absence of clear legal definitions at EU level, by the opacity of the information available on CSOs through EU databases and by excessive bureaucracy.

Over recent decades Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) – a term used to capture all forms of collective organisation outside the government and business sectors – have grown in both number and impact on policy-making, both at EU and national levels. In consequence, CSOs have come under pressure to demonstrate that they use the public resources they are given in an efficient, accountable and transparent manner. A number of proposals to address these topics have been discussed over the years. However, only a few of those proposals have been translated into law; and even fewer of these, after being implemented, have offered an effective solution to the issue of financial accountability of the third sector. The debate between scholars, institutions and practitioners is still ongoing. In the meantime, the third sector at the European level remains regulated by a combination of European norms, quasi-legal tools, and self-regulatory initiatives. Efforts to tackle financial mismanagement by CSOs are frustrated by the absence of clear legal definitions at EU level, by the opacity of the information available on CSOs through EU databases and by excessive bureaucracy.