27 May 2021

Opening Civil Dialogue Week – Launch of the New Citizens, Equality, Rights and Values Funding Programme

Protection of the core EU values

The launch of the New CERV (Citizens, Equality, Rights and Values) Funding Programme with the Civil Dialogue week, has been heralded by an inspiring open ceremony with remarks of prominent politicians and leaders in the NGO sector. During the ceremony, moderators Chris Burns (Euronews) and Dave Keating (France 24) pointed out that six out of ten of the CERV Dialogue Week participants agree that their core values are protected in their country. This is somewhat encouraging but also shows that there is ample room for improvement. A step in the right direction is the doubled EU budget to 5 Billion euros to help CERV organisations.

Cooperation between the EU institutions

EU Commissioner Didier Reynders pointed out that the increase in funding is thanks to the support of the European Parliament and the cooperation of the Council. The Green’s Alice Kuhnke supports the call for civil society to gain some ‘muscle’. Both Kuhnke and Reynders emphasise that the priority of the considerable funding capacity is to promote the shared EU values.

COVID-19 and the rights of minorities

According to Justice Minister Francine van Dunem, an inherent part of the EU is the protection of the rights of minorities. The funding must be directed to prevent violence against women and children, to combat racism, xenophobia, homophobia, transphobia and other forms of discrimination. The importance of funding is demonstrated in the progress already made by Joanna Maycock, Secretary General of the European Women’s Lobby (EWL). The EWL has been able to respond rapidly to the disproportionate impact of the Covid-crisis on women and girls. The COVID-19 crisis has been a real stress-test for our society and in particular for the health care system and the rule of law. The positive side is that this has drawn attention towards protecting our fundamental rights and values.

Read our interview with Michael O’Flaherty, Fundametal Rights Agency: “Human rights have to be the golden thread, the infrastructure of the future of Europe. Civil society is a critical, non-negotiable dimension of this”

The role of CSO’s

With this increased attention on rights and values, the Civil Dialogue week put this momentum to practice, drawing attention to Civil Society and CSO’s that help those in need. According to Alexandrina Najmowicz from Civil Society Europe and Co-Chair of the CSOs Convention for the Future of Europe, CSO’s require mutual recognition and promotion. To achieve this CSO’s need both the funding and the programme. The combination of the funding and the CERV programme will allow CSO’s to keep their important activities afloat.

A wider reach

The Civil Dialogue week aims to show CSO’s whether their work is compatible with the goals of the CERV fund and how to access the funding. In her welcome word Salla Saastamoinen, acting Director-General for DG Justice and Consumers, pointed out that to reach the right audiences, we must establish a public forum with the European institutions and civil society stakeholders from all over the world. With previous programmes the EU has reached over seven million citizens and two hundred organisations. The ambition is now to reach even more and to enable civil dialogue on all policy levels. She highlighted that together with the Conference on the Future of Europe, CERV is tapping into the power of co-creation and will serve as an enabler for civil society.

About CERV

Citizens, Equality, Rights and Values (CERV) is the new European programme offering funding for citizens’ engagement, equality for all and the protection and promotion of rights and EU values. Civil society organisations active at local, regional, national and transnational level, as well as other stakeholders, can apply to receive CERV funding for the 2021-2027 period. The CERV dialogue is included in the events on the Conference on the Future of Europe.

The Civil Dialogue Week 2021 was a unique way for potential partners and beneficiaries to get to know these new EU funding opportunities. The event presented the 2021-2027 Citizens, Equality, Rights and Values (CERV) programme and also provided an opportunity for an open dialogue between policy-makers, civil society organisations and other stakeholders on policy developments, opportunities and challenges. Moreover, by bringing together stakeholders from all over Europe, the event aimed to enhance networking and boost cooperation between initiatives and partnerships among participants.