Massive resistance from NGOs against EU directive demanding registration

May 11, 2023

On 3 May 2023, 229 civil society organisations from across Europe expressed concern about a draft EU directive which would introduce registration requirements for NGOs receiving foreign funding. The directive, which is part of the European Commission’s upcoming Defence of Democracy Package, could have unintended negative consequences for NGOs. It could hinder their capacity to fulfil their role as democracy and human rights watchdogs in Europe and beyond and would limit EU capacity to support civil society and human rights defenders. By introducing an obligation to disclose non-EU funding and creating a register for organisations receiving such funding, the proposal echoes ‘foreign influence legislation’, used by non-democratic States to narrow civic space and silence criticism. The NGOs stress civil society’s fundamental role in upholding democracy and human rights globally and, while in favour of enhanced transparency and accountability standards, recalls the importance of preserving its space and alerts against initiatives that could undermine its work.

The NGOs demand that the proposal for “a legal instrument introducing common transparency and accountability standards for interest representation services directed or paid for from outside the EU” should not be pursued. And also ask that:

● a fundamental rights impact assessment should be considered ahead of any legislative proposal;and

●  an open and structured dialogue must be ensured with all stakeholders, in particular all proposals or review of legislation affecting civil society must be prepared in close dialogue with civil society.

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