Participatory democracy under threat: Growing restrictions on the freedoms of NGOs in the EU

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This paper is designed to inform EU decision-makers about the increasing restrictions facing independent non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in the EU. NGOs are vital to the proper functioning of healthy, rights-respecting democracies operating under the rule of law. Yet the practices, laws and policies of national authorities and sometimes the EU itself are hampering the ability of these organisations to operate – often this is indeed the express aim of national governments. This paper will begin by explaining the role that NGOs play in facilitating democratic participation, upholding the rule of law and respect for fundamental rights. It will then outline the principal obstacles facing NGOs before putting forward recommendations directed at the EU institutions that would allow the EU to preserve the freedoms that NGOs require to perform their tasks and facilitate their development.


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