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Sixteen philanthropic organisations from across Europe have joined forces in a consortium aimed at protecting and expanding civil society.
Civitates formed in 2018 and supports civil society coalitions across Europe that are working to strengthen the sector’s resilience in their countries.
The consortium has already identified and distributed over one million Euros in funding to civil society coalitions in countries across the European Union including Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Italy, France, Poland and Romania. Each coalition involves a wide selection of organisations with a focus on issues ranging from access to quality education to combating climate change, and human rights.
Civitates also supports civil society groups pushing for a digital public sphere where public and democratic values are safeguarded, and expects to distribute another million Euros in the coming months for initiatives in this field.
The sixteen members of Civitates are: Adessium Foundation, Stefan Batory Foundation, Bertelsmann Stiftung, European Cultural Foundation, ERSTE Stiftung, Fondation de France, Fritt Ord, King Baudouin Foundation, Körber Stiftung, Luminate, Mott Foundation, Nicolas Puech Foundation, Oak Foundation, Open Society Foundations, Robert Bosch Stiftung, and Stiftung Mercator.
Leonie van Tongeren, fund manager of Civitates, said:
“This is a critical moment for Europe. Hard won democratic freedoms are being eroded. Democracy cannot be taken for granted. Civitates will provide a forum for philanthropic and civil society actors to come together, to revitalise public discourse, and ensure that all voices are heard. No single organisation, however innovative, can improve democracy by itself.”
Stefan Schäfers, head of European affairs at the King Baudouin Foundation and Chair of Civitates, added:
“In a world where misinformation travels five times faster than the truth, stronger safeguards are needed to ensure that hate speech, disinformation and misinformation are not allowed to thrive in the ways in which they have to-date, online. Civitates is committed to analysing and exposing the problematic aspects of the digital information ecosystem. Moreover, we support initiatives that advocate for regulatory responses that are in line with core democratic values, such as freedom of speech and expression.”