Relationship Status: It’s complicated. Civil Society Organisations and the EU.

In 2018, during the Austrian Presidency of the EU Council, IGO joined forces with the European Civic Forum in carrying forward the legacy of civil society forums in countries holding the EU Presidencies over the last ten years.

A recent report by Civil Society Europe shows there is a desire for the European Union to play a greater role in upholding democratic principles and setting guidelines to ensure an enabling environment for civil society.

Wednesday, 21 November 2018

Article 11 of the Lisbon Treaty commits the „institutions“ – including the European Council and its 28 members – to an „open, transparent and regular dialogue with representative associations and civil society“. Yet, the reality often shows a different picture: in many Member States civil society organizations are either ignored or facing open hostility. In addition, the scarcity or conditionality of public funding is restricting civic organisations’ ability to take action to ensure access to fundamental rights for all.

On day one, participants were primarily those in charge and members or employees of civil society organizations from Austria and abroad. Working language was English.

Picture Gallery Day 1.

Welcome and Opening

  • Franz NEUNTEUFL, IGO, Vienna
  • Iva TARALEZHKOVA, Bulgarian Citizen Participation Forum, Sofia
  • Jean Marc ROIRANT, European Civic Forum, Paris

Panel 1 – All for rights and rights for all: the state of civic space and fundamental rights in today’s European Union

With contributions from

  • Veronika MORA, Hungarian Enviromental Partnership Foundation, Budapest
  • Waltraud HELLER, European Fundamental Rights Agency, Wien
  • Dr Vedran DZIHIC, Austrian Institute for International Affairs, Vienna
  • Alexandrina NAJMOWICZ, European Civic Forum, Paris (Moderation)

Panel 2Funding civil society activities with public money: Too much to die, too little to live

With contributions from

  • Judith PÜHRINGER, arbeitplus, Vienna
  • Jean Marc ROIRANT, European Economic and Social Committee, European Civic Forum & Civil Society Europe, Brussels
  • Dr Daniela BANKIER, European Commission, DG Justice, Programme and Financial Management Unit, Brussels
  • Franz NEUNTEUFL, IGO, Wien (Moderation)

Outlook on the Romanian EU Presidency from a civil society point of view

  • Iuliana RADA, Civil Society Development Foundation, Bukarest.

Thursday, 22 November 2018

Article 2 has a prominent place in the EU treaties, yet a vast gap exists between these rights and values and their exercise and implementation. In Europe today, rights and liberties are increasingly sacrificed in the name of austerity, security, anti-terrorism or money laundering, transparency or business secrecy.

This was the starting point for the inputs and panel discussions on the second day of the event. Working language here was German.

Picture Gallery Day 2.

Welcome and Opening

  • Dr Jörg WOJAHN, Representation of the European Commission in Austria, Vienna
  • Dr Alexander VAN DER BELLEN, Federal President of the Rep. of Austria – Video Message
  • Franz NEUNTEUFL, IGO, Vienna

Panel 1Make Europe Great for All: about the spaces between values& policies

With contributions from

  • Andreas SCHIEDER, Candidate to the European Parliament, SPÖ, Vienna
  • Dr Daniela BANKIER, European Commission, DG Justice, Programme and Financial Management Unit, Brussels
  • Dr Michaela MOSER, European Anti-Poverty Network, Vienna
  • Dr Frank HEUBERGER, Bundesweites Netzwerk Bürgerschaftliches Engagement, Berlin (Moderation)


  • Karoline EDTSTADLER, State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Interior, Vienna

Panel 2Climate change in politics: how can we go against the tides in the EU?

  • Dr Othmar KARAS, Austrian MEP, ÖVP, Brussels
  • Leonore GEWESSLER, Global 2000 | Friends of the Earth, Vienna
  • Verena RINGLER, European Commons, Innsbruck – Vienna
  • Franz NEUNTEUFL, IGO, Vienna

Closing Remarks

  • Alexandrina NAJMOWICZ, European Civic Forum, Paris.