More than 100 civil society organisations called for increase of the European Rights and Values programme

More than 100 European civil society organisations supported an open letter calling for an increase of the Rights and Values programme that was cut in a draft 7-year budget for the EU. The letter, initiated by the European Civic Forum, was sent to the President of the European Commission, Ursula Von der Leyen, the members of the European Parliament, the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, and the members of the Governments of EU Member States on 8 June 2020. BlueLink is among the organisations supporting the letter.

On 27 May 2020 the European Commission presented a strategy of overcoming negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and preparing the future for next generations. It also presented a draft 7-year budget for the EU, which is intended to be an essential tool in achieving goals stated in the strategy.

CSOs supporting the letter expressed their disappointment with the fact that civil society’s role is not adequately reflected in the draft budget, manifested by a proposal to cut the volume of the Rights and Values Programme by over 20 per cent compared to the already very low figure proposed by the Commission in 2018. “We call on you to significantly increase the budget of the Rights and Values programme, optimally to the level demanded by the European Parliament, i.e. to 1.83 billion EUR.

BlueLink supported the letter, together with other Bulgarian and European organisations, such as Open Society Institute – Sofia, Bulgarian Center for Not-for-Profit Law, Access to Information Programme, Bulgarian Helsinki Committee and EU-Russia Civil Society Forum.

The Rights and Values Programme was intended to support projects implemented by civil society organisations promoting and protecting common European values of democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights, the signatories remind. “We are afraid that cutting the funds for the civil society will only aggravate the social and political problems that the EU will be facing in the coming years. It will also send a wrong signal about the EU’s commitment to its values and citizens’ rights.”

With the outbreak of the pandemic, CSOs have proved their effectiveness and commitment to serving our societies and protecting foundational European values and norms. Their work will continue to be necessary to easing hardship caused by the pandemic to vulnerable social groups, to maintain social cohesion and solidarity, as well as to invigorate political legitimacy of the European project in the years after the pandemic, the letter states.