European democracy needs a vibrant and independent civil society

September 21, 2020, 10:39 am

Civil society Europe, where Culture Action Europe is an active member and represents European culture and creative sectors on its steering committee, published a statement as a contribution to the European Commission consultation on the European Democracy Action Plan.

During the last years, EU core values such as democracy, rule of law and fundamental rights have been facing increasing challenges within the European Union itself. This has also meant a shrinking civic space that we have documented in several reports. The impact of the recent pandemic and measures to address it have further contributed to deteriorating these trends and has had a further adverse impact on the ability of civil society to perform its role whether in promoting access to fundamental rights in the social, health, cultural, education, environmental sector or advocating for good governance and better democracy.  We welcome therefore the development of an action plan on democracy and we would like to be an active part!

Civil society organisations play a key role in the democratic system, holding those in power to account and stimulating public debate and citizen engagement, responding on the ground to societal challenges, as well as in combating some of the identified threats. Civil society is also crucial in empowering individuals to express their opinions and  voice their concerns, as also recognised by the Treaties. In addition to this, participatory and deliberative democracy can give citizens an increased chance to actively and directly participate in the shaping of planned or future public policies. A major element in the context will be the upcoming Conference on the Future of Europe.

A number of measures are necessary to sustain and reinforce democracy in Europe, but this can only happen through the active involvement and recognition of civil society as an important pillar of democracy.

Read the full statement here.

In addition, Culture Action Europe and Freemuse with our members and partners also published an open letter in response  to the public consultation launched by the European Commission on the European Democracy Action Plan (EDAP). We called on the Commission that the freedom of artistic expression to be reflected in the EDAP. Read on…