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International Partnerships
News announcement13 June 2024BrusselsDirectorate-General for International Partnerships2 min read

European Union and Civil Society sign landmark partnership to promote space for civil society globally

Signing Ceremony of Agreements for the EU System for an Enabling Environment ('EU SEE') project

The EU System for an Enabling Environment for Civil Society programme seeks to support civil society to thrive by preventing efforts to restrict civic space and shut down civil society organisations. This new partnership between the European Union and a consortium of 9 civil society organisations (CSOs) was signed by European Commissioner for International Partnerships Jutta Urpilainen and leaders of civil society organisations in the margins of the annual meeting of the “Team Europe Democracy” initiative in Brussels.

Commissioner for International Partnerships Jutta Urpilainen said: “Civil society is a key partner for the European Union in delivering sustainable impact for communities through EU external action. With civil society partners, we promote democratic civic space, which is essential for the successful roll-out of our Global Gateway investment strategy. I am proud that we can launch together the new EU System for an Enabling Environment for Civil Society programme. It will help civil society to monitor potential restrictions on civic space, raise the alarm and respond proactively to threats to democracy.”

The €50 million “EU System for an Enabling Environment” aims to promote an enabling environment for civil society in 86 countries across the globe. Led by civil society, the innovative mechanism brings together national, regional and global networks to monitor laws and administrative practices as well as the digital and media environments which provide the context for civil society operations.  

In countries where participating monitors issue alerts on restrictive actions, the programme will aim to provide funds and solidarity networks to local organisations to mount campaigns or strengthen their internal systems to withstand threats to their operations.

Half the programme funding will be sub-granted to local civil society organisations, including organisations headed by women, youth and other vulnerable groups, and those operating outside of main capitals.

The main partner CSOs have a wealth of experience monitoring, protecting and strengthening civic space with members or chapters in over 190 countries. The organisations implementing the program are CIVICUS, Democracy Reporting International, European Partnership for Democracy, Forus, Hivos, Oxfam Novib (Oxfam), Protection International, Transparency International and Urgent Action Fund - Latin America and the Caribbean (UAF-LAC).

The EU System for an Enabling Environment for Civil Society is part of the Global Europe Civil Society Organisations programme. It will complement and support the work done by EU Delegations in partner countries. 

The European Union is a longstanding global champion for civil society as development actors and supports their engagement to contribute to democratic processes and achieve better development outcomes. 


Publication date
13 June 2024
Directorate-General for International Partnerships