BCSDN Position on the EC Consultation on a European Statute for NPOs and Single Market for Associations


In February 2022, the European Parliament adopted a legislative initiative resolution (2020/2026(INL), with recommendations to the Commission to harmonise the status of non-profits throughout the EU and establish a statute for European association. The initiative aims to promote and support the cross-border activities of CSOs, allowing them to benefit from the EU single market and contribute to the democratic processes. To this end, the European Commission launched a public consultation on establishing a single market for associations.

As a regional network composed of CSOs from both EU and aspiring EU countries, whose mission is to promote the enabling environment for CSOs operations and development, BCSDN welcomes this initiative and believes it is vital that all European CSOs, including those from the Enlargement region, have a say in this process. Bringing in the Enlargement countries’ perspective and lessons learned in the scope of the proposal will demonstrate the intrinsic connection and indivisibility of the needs and challenges of civil society in the Union and the WBT region. Not only would it contribute to a more straightforward harmonisation of WBT CSO regulations with EU laws, thus ensuring progress on their accession path, but it would be beneficial also for the EU, as it would make use of already existing and successful initiatives from this region (such as the Monitoring Matrix and the EU Guidelines for Support to Civil Society in Enlargement Countries) in defining and monitoring common standards that are applicable across borders. Harmonisation across all EU policies and instruments within and outside of its borders could allow Enlargement CSOs to both benefit and contribute to the single market, regardless of the stage and pace of their countries’ EU integration process.

Only harmonised regulation could eradicate barriers and promote the benefit of a single market. While the idea of a single market for associations seems very valuable and promising, it will have a real positive impact only if it aims to prevent restrictions to the civic space and further enable the environment for operation of the sector rather than over-regulate or restrict its functioning (e.g. much like the new AML/CFT regulations that have brought additional restrictions and challenges for CSOs in many countries). Finally, it is crucial that the new EC proposal promotes the CSOs’ fundamental rights to participate in public and political life and contributes to more substantial civil dialogue and better recognition of CSOs’ work. This would further contribute to the protection and promotion of the EU’s values and send a clear message of support to civil society beyond the EU borders, fostering a pan-European democratic space.



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