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Enhancing access to EU financial programs for watchdog and accountability CSOs in Europe

We contributed to formulation of the new EU program on Rights, Equality and Citizenship Program 2014-2020, a successor of several previous EU financing programs for human rights and watchdog organizations. We worked with an informal watchdog network to develop an advocacy to raise issues to be covered by the upcoming program, prepared our own submission to the consultation and developed an advocacy paper, which was distributed among stakeholders and EU decision-makers. Importantly, our comments submitted to DG Justice in response to the consultation paper were integrated in the text of the program and ECNL’s opinion was the first of 400 cited in the results of the consultation. The adopted Program includes rules which will allow smaller watchdog CSOs to access funding and it plans for fairer geographic distribution of the funds, which were core issues ECNL advocated for on behalf of an informal network of human rights and watchdog CSOs from CEE.

As a follow up, we held several meetings with Ms. Kinga Gönz, Vice Chair of the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) Committee at the European Parliament, where we voiced the needs for support CSOs working on fundamental rights inside of EU. In February 2014 European Parliament adopted a resolution urging the European Commission to improve respect for fundamental rights in the EU (put forward by LIBE) and calling upon European institutions to set up a monitoring system for EU member countries’ compliance with the Charter of Fundamental Rights. Similarly, to the issues raised in our advocacy paper of 2013 the resolution puts recommendations for the EU and its member states in the specific areas of fundamental rights addressing the issues of respect for access to information, good administration and transparency in decision-making processes and improved access to documents by citizens within the EU.