Photo: Asociatia Pro Democratia.

Democracy building and social integration

19/03/2010 // To reduce European disparities and strengthen democracies, civil society needs to be onboard. The EEA and Norway Grants support NGO projects in 12 countries, underpinned by a belief that social inclusion, human rights and political participation are best ensured by engaging and promoting an active civil society.

Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have an important role to play in strengthening social inclusion and promoting democratic values through lobbying public policy, initiating public debate and delivering social services. The EEA and Norway Grants therefore provide specific NGO funds in 12 beneficiary states with €85 million in support. These funds target the needs of civil society, and 1755 NGO projects have so far received grants. In addition, €100 million is given in direct support to larger development projects run by NGOs following open calls for individual projects in the beneficiary states.

Media freedom, anti-corruption and political participation
Close to 500 NGO projects under the NGO funds concern democracy-building, protection of human rights and anti-discrimination initiatives. The projects span from a Polish media freedom and watchdog project and support to Transparency International’s activities in Hungary, to a political participation project aimed at youth in Romania.

Minorities and disadvantaged groups
Some 180 projects focus on strengthening the participation of disadvantaged groups, such as ethnic minorities, immigrants and disabled people, in society and politics. In Latvia, a specific NGO fund is in place to support the integration activities of ethnic minority NGOs. Several projects in Hungary, Poland and Slovakia seek to integrate young Roma into the labour market, raise awareness of the Roma culture, and improve the education of young Roma through support systems in public schools and by arranging specific summer schools.

Encouraging dialogue and reconciliation
A one of a kind NGO project aimed at creating dialogue and reconciliation is being carried out in Cyprus, where the EEA and Norway Grants support the Home for Cooperation in Nicosia`s UN-controlled buffer zone. Watch the recent video about the project: Old places, new faces: A history of home.

NGO funds are in place in:

• Bulgaria
• Cyprus
• Czech Republic
• Estonia
• Hungary
• Latvia
• Lithuania
• Poland
• Portugal
• Romania
• Slovakia
• Slovenia

Source: Haakon Vinje, Financial Mechanism Office (FMO).   |   Share on your network   |   print