How the COVID-19 pandemic affected civil society organizations in Europe

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How the COVID-19 pandemic affected civil society organizations in Europe

Through their engagement during the pandemic civil society organizations across Europe demonstrated their ability to adapt quickly to new conditions and demonstrated their role in responding to major societal needs. At the same time, they were the ones most affected by the effects of the pandemic. We recently discussed the findings of the IPA study showing that at the European Economic and Social Committee.

In the second half of 2021, we conducted a study on how the COVID-19 pandemic affected the activities of civil society organisations across Europe. We also looked at the impact of measures introduced in individual EU Member States on the ability of civil society organisations to exercise their fundamental rights and freedoms. The work was commissioned by the European Economic and Social Committee and carried out in partnership with the European Civic Forum, Civil Society Europe, and the European Center for Not-for-Profit Law. We are now sharing the results in various forums in an effort to use them to shape public policies in support of civil society organizations.

On May 18th the report was discussed at a meeting of members of Group III of the European Economic and Social Committee in Brussels. Filip Pazderski, head of the ISP Democracy and Civil Society Program, pointed out that

Civil society organizations were the first to respond to the challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, yet they were also the most affected by its effects and received the least public support. (...) Organisations now need proper recognition of their role in European public policies, for example through the adoption of a European Civil Society Strategy and the establishment of a mechanism for the ongoing reporting of irregularities affecting them.

He based this on the recommendations we have developed with our partners and presented in the report The implications of the COVID-19 pandemic on fundamental rights and civic space (

At the same time, Filip also talks about the main findings of the study in an interview that appeared in the latest EESC Group III newsletter: Diversity Europe Newsletter (

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