Civil society


What’s the issue?

Civil society is a key agent of change. Civil society organisations amplify the voices of people, defending their human rights and demanding that people’s concerns be addressed. Civil society also holds governments, public institutions and the private sector to account for their commitments.

However, civil society space is shrinking around the world, and Europe is no exception. Only 4% of the global population live in countries in which fundamental freedoms are fully respected.

The restrictions of civic space and the limitations imposed on the work of civil society come in many different forms, ranging from legislative measures to funding restrictions to harassment to exclusion from decision-making processes. At the root of this are attempts by leaders to concentrate power and evade accountability to people.

If civil society is challenged, so are democracy, equality, social cohesion, non-discrimination, transparency and accountability, and inclusive and sustainable development. 

Change we want to see

civil society space

Enabled civic spaces and support to human rights defenders with diverse civil society actors, working in a democratic, open and safe environment, supported by governments and other institutions.


structured dialogue

Meaningful consultation with a diverse range of civil society actors, especially at the local level and mechanisms for inclusion and genuine participation.

access to funding

Adequate, flexible and predictable funding that respects the diversity of the sector and facilitates local, grassroots organisations’ engagement.

What is CONCORD doing about it?


CONCORD concentrates on strengthening the power of, and space for, civil society in each of the core and cross-cutting priorities. We pay special attention to civil society voices from partner countries as we will bring their voices to the forefront and promote their involvement in European debates.

We aim to improve the environment for civil society around the world, strengthening our rights to freedom of speech, association and assembly. These rights must be respected and reflected in values, norms and attitudes in society, in legal frameworks, in the regulatory environment, in access to funding and in meaningful participation in decision-making.

We work in many different fora, including in international coalitions such as the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation and the EU Policy Forum for Development.

7 practices for civil society participation in EU decision-making

Over the years, CONCORD together with its civil society partners around the world has produced a number of concrete inputs on civil society participation in EU international partnerships and external action decision-making.

On several occasions, we have assessed what works and what does not in existing dialogue mechanisms and we have shared good practices and recommendations to improve participation opportunities.

This document gathers the key messages of these previous efforts into 7 best practices, in order to define what meaningfulness entails in action and to continue our dialogue with the EU.

It seeks to encourage not only a shift to action towards meaningful, inclusive and safe civil society engagement, but a shift of approach towards cooperation and co-creation with civil society in all its diversity, recognising the value of partnering and engaging with civil society at all levels and across all institutions.

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Get in touch with us

Want to get engaged? Need more information? Contact our policy expert!

Salomé Guibreteau

Salomé Guibreteau

Policy and Advocacy Adviser


Phone: +32 (0) 2 743 87 63

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