10 July 2023  -  11 July 2023
Berlin, Germany

The Civic Space in Europe – Shrinking, Growing, Enhancing?

The Maecenata Institute will mark the end of its three-year project exploring the critical issues of the changing civic space in Europe with a symposium “The Civic Space in Europe – Shrinking, Growing, Enhancing?” on 10-11 July in Berlin.

In recent years, the European Union has suffered from democratic backsliding and the erosion of the rule of law as well as from a weakening of other fundamental values such as institutional trust. This democratic decline is intertwined with the shrinking civic space – the growing tendency to restrict of civil society action – in Europe, that was focus of a three-year project at Maecenata Institute.

While there are alarming signs of repression and mistrust towards Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), there is also the observation that civil societies are responding to this by forming new coalitions and attempting to push back, which has also led to the emergence of new CSOs. In order to achieve a comprehensive systemic overview, a European perspective must necessarily take into account the specific peculiarities of the nations that are part of the European project.

The perspective of the European Civic Space Observatory (ESCO), which encompasses European countries that are all members of the Council of Europe but not necessarily members of the European Union, includes both long-term stable democracies and countries where the democratic transformation took place only a generation ago. The ESCO attempted to combine both holistic and specific approaches in order to compare the different situations across Europe.