New EU 'civil society working group' starts work

Independent study will examine how EU grants could work better

The European Commission has agreed to commission a report from a group of European voluntary sector bodies about how EU funding can become more 'civil society-friendly'.

"This is the first ever civil society working group within the European institutions looking at funding from the point of view of the sector," said Filippo Addarii, director of the Acevo-affiliated Euclid Network of European sector leaders.

"The EU is the largest donor in the world and we need to get a better return on its investment, especially in the current economic conditions."

Filippo Addarii said that over the next six months the civil society working group would examine all aspects of European funding, including funding for volunteers, reserves policy and the "non-profit constraint" that allows the EU to claw back any surplus that EU-funded NGOs make.

The report will be produced by the European Active Citizenship Group, a body of non-profit organisations and think tanks that receive EU funding to promote active citizenship.

"We are an independent group," Addarii said. "Officials won't have to stick to our recommendations, but they will include them in their discussions."

He also admitted the group wouldn't be able to solve every problem. "This is the starting point of a process," he said. "After six months we need to create a broader coalition and open up discussion to a broader audience. At a certain point, the big players will have to take over."

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