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Protecting civil society space: strengthening freedom of association, assembly and expression and the right to defend rights in the EU

28-10-2020

This study, commissioned by the European Parliament's Policy Department for Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs at the request of the LIBE Committee, covers the challenges facing the civil society space. Watchdog NGOs and other human rights defenders have been under pressure during the humanitarian and rule of law ‘crises’. Several EU Member States have passed laws that fall short of international, regional and EU freedom of association standards. Some governments have used the COVID-19 pandemic ...

This study, commissioned by the European Parliament's Policy Department for Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs at the request of the LIBE Committee, covers the challenges facing the civil society space. Watchdog NGOs and other human rights defenders have been under pressure during the humanitarian and rule of law ‘crises’. Several EU Member States have passed laws that fall short of international, regional and EU freedom of association standards. Some governments have used the COVID-19 pandemic to further restrict the civic space. The study explores how the EU could protect civil society from unjust state interference by strengthening freedom of association, assembly and expression, as well as the right to defend human rights. The study elaborates on four policy options: introducing a European association statute; establishing internal guidelines to respect and protect human rights defenders; developing a civil society stability index; and creating a network of focal contact points for civil society at EU institutions. It recommends strengthening the independence of critical civil society actors and increasing funding for activities such as strategic litigation to uphold EU laws and values.

External author

Lina VOSYLIŪTĖ, Ngo Chun LUK

Cohesion funds, values and economic and monetary union in the 2021-2027 MFF: European Parliament position on Heading 2 – Cohesion and values

21-01-2019

Heading 2 – Cohesion and values – is the biggest in terms of budget in the multiannual financial framework (MFF) proposed by the European Commission for the 2021 to 2027 period. It is also the most diversified heading in terms of the types of programme and fund included. It encompasses expenditure on cohesion, one of the EU's long-standing policies, on an entirely new budgetary instrument supporting economic and monetary union, and on other increasingly important goals, including youth employment ...

Heading 2 – Cohesion and values – is the biggest in terms of budget in the multiannual financial framework (MFF) proposed by the European Commission for the 2021 to 2027 period. It is also the most diversified heading in terms of the types of programme and fund included. It encompasses expenditure on cohesion, one of the EU's long-standing policies, on an entirely new budgetary instrument supporting economic and monetary union, and on other increasingly important goals, including youth employment, the creative sector, values, equality and the rule of law. Under this heading the Commission is proposing to almost halve the Cohesion Fund and double the Erasmus+ programme. Moreover, some of the programmes included fall under shared management between the Commission and EU Member States, while some are managed directly by the Commission. This briefing presents Heading 2 in detail, on the basis of previous EPRS publications on the 2021-2027 MFF proposal. It aims to provide some clarity on its structure and allocation in comparison with the current MFF, based on the Commission's proposal for the 2021-2027 MFF and the European Parliament's negotiating position adopted on 14 November 2018. The analysis is structured around three issues: the introduction to the EU budget of a new budgetary instrument for economic and monetary union, a change in the allocation for cohesion policy, and the merging of programmes supporting people, social cohesion and values.

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