Research begins on NGOs in Europe

European human rights body the Council of Europe has begun research into the legal framework for the establishment of NGOs in different European countries.

The Expert Council on NGO Law, set up last month by the council's Conference of International Non-Governmental Organisations, will lead the project.

Jeremy McBride, coordinator of the Expert Council, said it wanted to find out about restrictions on the establishment of NGOs by some governments. He said such restrictions contravened the guarantee of freedom of association in the European Convention on Human Rights. He did not expect to uncover such problems in the UK, he said.

The research will be based on a survey sent last week to NGOs across Europe. Some groups have complained that they were not given enough time to respond before the deadline this Friday.

John Gibson, a member of a grass-roots Catholic movement affiliated to the Council of Europe, said he was also worried that the questionnaire had not been sent to the people best placed to answer it authoritatively.

McBride admitted the survey was not systematic.

Oliver Henman, European and international manager at the NCVO, received the questionnaire. "I hope the complexity of the legal situation will come out," he said. "It could be helpful for those of our members who want to operate in more than one country."

To get a copy of the questionnaire, email

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