Protect civic space and guarantee civil dialogue

SOLIDAR members empower citizens both locally and nationally. Their vital role in promoting social inclusion and cohesion, an integral part of our democratic fabric, should be recognised through their participation in policy-making processes.


The EU’s growing interest in citizen participation offers a chance to enhance civil society’s role in policymaking. This should include implementing civil and social dialogue and supporting citizenship education. It’s vital for addressing the EU’s democratic deficit and ensuring citizens can influence all policies through transparent dialogue. Read more about SOLIDAR’s work on democratic participation, civic space and civil dialogue.

Key asks

  1. The EU should adopt a Civil society strategy based on three pillars: an enabling civic space for civil society, adequate and sustainable funding, and a mechanism to protect civil society, activists, under-represented groups (e. g. indigenous people) and defenders. The EU should ensure that there are harmonised standards that guarantee that civil dialogue can take place at appropriate levels, while supporting and funding a mutually beneficial EU-Global South civil dialogue and cooperation.   
  2. The EU should introduce an EU interinstitutional agreement recognising civil dialogue as an essential element of European participatory democracy and with the aim to harmonise standards for civil dialogue across EU institutions and Member States. The agreement should be developed in cooperation with civil society organisations. 
  3. The EU should build the capacity of CSOs to participate in civil dialogue and mainstream the engagement of organised civil society at all stages of the policy cycle, taking into account the inclusion of and outreach to marginalised and under-represented groups, and implementing follow-up and accountability mechanisms. This means establishing public participation processes as well as bottom-up civic participation.  
  4. The EU should support cooperation between civil society organisations and social partners. Civil dialogue does not mean having a third social partner to engage in social dialogue, but to have a parallel, structured process for representing the diversity of civil society in Europe and local constituencies, contributing towards more fit for purpose and anchored public policies that benefit all. The two processes are not mutually exclusive but rather mutually reinforcing.  

What have we done so far?

  • Monitors and works jointly to counter shrinking space in the Global South, especially Latin America, and South Asia. In 2022, it organised a Global Week of Action focused on the issue with partners and members from all over the world, sharing the main challenges and threats they face and what tools are key to strengthening civic space;
  • Monitors civic space in Europe through the Social Rights Monitor (SRM), with input provided by its members.
  • Publishes regular updates on the state of civic space in seven EU countries for the monitoring tool of CIVICUS Alliance, the Civicus Monitor
  • Advances and promotes active civic participation and deliberation in the green and just transition, in the framework of SDG Watch Europe and the REAL Deal project. 
  • Promotes civil dialogue at the EU level, paving avenues for citizens to participate in the democratic processes of the EU. It is in this spirit that SOLIDAR also proudly co-founded Civil Society Europe. A particular momentum for this effort was provided by the Conference on the Future of Europe (CoFoE), where SOLIDAR worked towards making it a more participatory and representative forum, showing European civil society diversity through the Civil Society Convention on the Future of Europe. The Convention represented at the CoFoE over 80 European networks and platforms in Europe and united millions of citizens active across different areas: from education to culture, social inclusion, environment, governance, and transparency. After its conclusion, SOLIDAR continues to work on the follow up of the CoFoE, in collaboration with Civil Society Europe – which leads the coalition. In this direction, SOLIDAR joined over 40 civil society organisations in drafting the first Civil Society State of the Union Report, in which the progress towards the EU institutions’ commitments stemming from the CoFoE was assessed. 

SOLIDAR’s key demands

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