Following months of negotiation, the European Parliament and the German Presidency of the EU have agreed a significant increase in the budget for the Justice, Rights and Values programme.
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In a statement, Roger Casale, Executive Director, New Europeans said:
"We welcome the deal struck by the European Council and the Parliament to double the allocation in the Justice, Rights and Values programme from euros 0.8 bn to euros 1.6 bn in the next Multi-Annual Financial Framework (MFF).
Parliament had originally asked for a tripling of the allocation while even in June, the Commission was recommending a freeze, having first proposed a twenty per cent reduction.
So this is a very important achievement by the European Parliament which represents European citizens and a demonstration that the EU is listening to civil society.
As we made clear in July, in member states such as Poland and Hungary, central government power is being ratcheted up , without countervailing measures to protect our freedoms (Consolidating rights and values should be at the heart of the recovery programme, Brussels Times, 22 July):
The Recovery Programme, gives the EU an important lever to ensure that EU member states respect, democracy, human rights and the rule of law and working with civil society can help ensure this lever is used to good effct.
During a pandemic, even more than in normal times, civil society organisations (CSOs) play a vital role in promoting dialogue and consensus and in protecting civic space: the rule of law and democratic rights such as freedom of assembly.
The decision comes after months of negotiations during which organisations like the European Civic Forum and the Stefan Batory Foundation in Poland mobilised support and powerfully argued the case on behalf of civil society".
Jean-Marc Roirant, President of European Civic Forum said:
"This historic deal for civil society sends out a most welcome signal in these dark times."
Raffaella Bolini, Co-President of European Civic Forum said:
"We are grateful to all the activists who raised their voices with us and to the MEPs for their support in recognising civil society organisations as key pillars of our society."
Eva Kulik-Bielińska, director of the Stefan Batory Foundation said:
"The EU now has the capacity to support grassroots organisations which promote democracy, the rule of law and human rights at the local level."
Roger Casale continued:
"We whole-heartedly endorse these statements and are proud to stand in solidarity with civil society groups to defend the values on which the future of the European project depends"
Read the European Civic Forum statement here