Recent years have witnessed increased challenges to the core democratic values upheld in many
parts of the world, protest movements have gathered in many countries to call for greater
accountability of governments.
At the same time a number of governments have appeared to regard civil society organisations and
active citizens as unhelpful and have at times suggested that the basic freedoms of association,
assembly and expression should be limited in favour of vaguely defined ‘national interests’; in other
cases there have been direct calls for limits to the right to campaign, which would undermine the
basic freedoms that lie at the heart of democracy in Europe.
So we set out to understand a core issue: do civil society organisations feel that their rights are
This survey set out to draw out some initial perceptions of civil society leaders in Europe as part of a
wider global process to understand and analyse the changes that are taking place in many countries.
It is intended to highlight some key trends but does not aim to provide a fully comprehensive picture
of the situation in every country at this stage.