EU: Funding needed for fundamental rights litigation

EU: Funding needed for fundamental rights litigation - Civic Space

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On 10 December 2020, ARTICLE 19, together with 43 other civil society organisations sent a letter to Didier Reynders, European Commissioner for Justice, urging the European Commission to create a designated source of funding to support fundamental rights litigation. The letter follows the recommendations of the feasibility study for financial support for litigating cases relating to violations of democracy, rule of law and fundamental rights. 

Dear Commissioner Reynders:

We, the below named civil society organisations, are writing to urge you to create a designated source of funding to support fundamental rights litigation in the European Union under the future Justice programme and/or the Citizens, Equality, Rights and Values programme. We would be grateful for the opportunity to discuss this issue with you and your Cabinet at your earliest convenience.

As the European Union’s 2020 Rule of Law report states: ‘No democracy can thrive without independent courts guaranteeing the protection of fundamental rights and civil liberties.’ Indeed, litigation also contributes to raised awareness of EU rights and a more coherent and effective application of EU law, including the Charter of Fundamental Rights. As civil society organisations, we work to advance fundamental rights, and depend upon litigation as an essential tool, among others, to do so. We echo the findings of the recent feasibility study on financial support for litigating cases that ‘a lack of adequate funding represents an obstacle to litigation,’ and that Commission support for litigation would create ‘opportunities to advance fundamental rights jurisprudence.’

We urge the Commission to respond by launching a dedicated funding call for fundamental rights litigation. Civil society organisations are unlikely to submit litigation-related proposals
in response to a general call, given the demanding requirements for EU proposals, and the uncertainty of success.

As internal discussions concerning funding priorities and the calls to be issued under the future programmes are imminent, we hope to meet with you soon. We look forward to hearing from you in the coming days.

Yours sincerely,
Access Info Europe, Access Now, APADOR-CH/ Association for the Defence of Human Rights in Romania – the Helsinki Committee, Article 19, Bulgarian Helsinki Committee, Campaign Against Homophobia (Poland), Centre for Peace Studies (Croatia), Civil Rights Defenders, Civil Liberties Union for Europe, Civil Society Europe, ClientEarth, Committee on the Administration of Justice (No. Ireland), Digital Freedom Fund, Electronic Frontier Norway (EFN), European Centre for Not-for-Profit Law, European Coalition for Corporate Justice (ECCJ), European Digital Rights (EDRi), European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), Fair Trials, Fitug e.V., Háttér Society (Hungary), Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights (Poland), Human Rights in Practice, Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (HCLU)/ Társaság a Szabadságjogokért (TASZ), Hungarian Helsinki Committee, ILGA-Europe, INPRIS – Institute for Law and Society (Poland), International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), Irídia – Center for Human Rights (Spain), Irish Council for Civil Liberties (Ireland), IT-Pol Denmark, Ligue des droits humains (Belgium), Novact – Institut Internacional per l’Acció Noviolenta (Spain), Open Republic – Association against Anti-Semitism and Xenophobia (Poland), Open Society Justice Initiative, Privacy International, Public International Law Network (PILnet), REDRESS Foundation (Netherlands), Rights International Spain, Sherpa, Stefan Batory Foundation (Poland), The Aire Centre, The Good Lobby and Validity Foundation