29 April 2021

Great momentum for the sector: Citizens, Equality, Rights and Values (CERV) programme 2021-2027

A strong civil society to live up to the Union’s values

A strong civil society protects democracy, fundamental rights, and the rule of law. This was recognized by the adoption of the Citizens, Equality, Rights and Values (CERV) programme 2021-2027 worth 1.55 billion euros. The work programme 2021-2022 will finance actions promoting non-discrimination and gender equality, the rights of the child, European remembrance and citizens’ engagement, as well as combat racism and gender-based violence. The new actions under Union values will strengthen the protection and promotion of the rule of law and democratic dialogue, transparency and good governance, via supporting, empowering and build the capacity of civil society organisations active in the promotion of values and rights, at local, regional, national and transnational level.

As rapporteur MEP Alice Kuhnke (Greens/EFA, Sweden) said during her European Parliament plenary session opening remarks, “I’m extremely proud of the 1.55 billion euros that we have managed to negotiate. We have managed to double the EU financing going to civil societies. This programme is one of the most important tools we have to strengthen and defend our democracies, our rights, and the Union’s fundamental values.” Furthermore, she welcomed the favourable backing of the EU Member States in the Council, where only Hungary and Poland opposed the programme.

The programme will fund a range of activities, such as capacity building, exchanges of good practices, awareness-raising, and studies. Commissioner Didier Reynders (Justice) stated in the Parliament that “The CERV programme will support organisations contributing to ensuring that equality, rule of law and values of the Union are a reality and will mean we can create a favourable environment for civil society organisations which are committed to promoting and protecting the values of the union and in the member states.”


Philanthropy (and wider civil society) receives direct access to the fund – implementation partners are currently being selected

Notably, the procedures are simplified, meaning that the money can be drawn from the fund directly without interference from EU Member States. We were informed that the Commission has issued a restricted tender for a study on the implementation of the programme, and in particular on identifying national organisations that could work as regranters.

The calls for proposals with information on the policy priorities targeted, activities and budget are now published in the Funding & tender opportunities portal. They will soon open for submission, with deadlines indicated in each call:

For additional information please visit CERV programme in the Funding & tender opportunities portal and in DG Justice funding programme webpage. In case you would like to receive updates, please subscribe to DG Justice newsletter on funding opportunities.

Invitation to attend the Civil Dialogue Week, 25 to 28 May 2021

Additionally, the European Commission invites you to attend the Civil Dialogue Week 2021, which will take place online from 25 to 28 May 2021. The Civil Dialogue Week 2021 will offer you the opportunity (i) to discuss policy and political opportunities and challenges as well as topics targeted by the CERV programme with representatives of the European institutions, and (ii) to learn about the new funding opportunities provided by the CERV programme. You will have the possibility to attend a High-Level Political Forum on 25 May and Info Days on funding opportunities and upcoming calls for proposals on 26 and 27 May. The session of 28 May will be restricted to current beneficiaries of action grants under the Rights, Equality and Citizenship and Justice calls for proposals 2019 and 2020.

To view the agenda or to register for the whole event or for specific days or sessions, simply click on the following link https://cerv-civil-dialogue-week.eu.

The CERV Civil Dialogue Week is part of the Conference on the Future of Europe. Therefore the conclusions and ideas discussed during the CERV Civil Dialogue Week will feed into this Conference and be made available on the dedicated platform.

A long-term effort bears fruit

Philanthropy Advocacy, alongside its members including the Stefan Batory Foundation and partners from civil society, has advocated for strengthening the EU CERV programme for several years. A strong CERV programme is also one of the core asks included in the European Philanthropy Manifesto, in which we call on the EU to ensure that resources are available for civil society organisations to develop medium to long-term plans to promote fundamental rights, rule of law and democracy, beyond specific time-bound EU related projects, and to sustain watchdog roles and respond to threats.