Civil society is under threat in many parts of the European Union, according to the findings of a new report by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA).

“A thriving democracy needs a healthy civil society,” said FRA Director Michael O’Flaherty.  “Unfortunately, the EU’s own civil society is facing a pattern of threats and pressures in many parts of the EU. Addressing this unacceptable situation should be a high priority for policymakers at EU and national levels.”

He said EU member states should abide by the laws, including international standards that recommend civil society participation in policy cycles. Due attention must also be paid to ensure that new or redrafted laws and policies do not undermine the work of civil society.

According to FRA’s report, which will be launched at the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) on January 19, civil society funding also needs to be protected. This includes finding ways to collect comparable and reliable data on the challenges civil society face, such as threats, intimidation and attacks.