EU ministers stress importance of engaging with civil society in external relations

19-06-2017
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EU Neighbours South

EU Foreign Ministers meeting in Brussels on 19 June have stressed the importance of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) as promoters of democracy, and as defenders of the rule of law, social justice and human rights.

In Conclusions on the EUs engagement with civil society in external relations adopted by the Foreign Affairs Council meeting, the EU underlined the crucial importance of CSOs for the successful implementation of the EU Global Strategy and the 2030 Agenda, including in the realisation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

At a time when the space for civil society is shrinking in an increasing number of countries, foreign ministers reaffirmed the EU's opposition to any unjustified restrictions to freedom of association, expression and peaceful assembly that hinder the work of CSOs.

The conclusions underlined the EU's commitment to play an important role in promoting stronger positions on civic freedoms and against any reduction in the space for civil society to act, a press release said.

Ministers welcomed the increase in EU financial resources in support of CSOs since 2012, noting that the EU has become the leading donor for local CSOs, including those active in humanitarian assistance and in protecting and promoting human rights and democracy.

 

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Press release

Full text of the Council conclusions

Council conclusions on the roots of democracy and sustainable development: Europe's engagement with Civil Society in external relations, 15 October 2012