Dear First Vice-President Timmermans,

The Donors and Foundations Networks in Europe (DAFNE) and the European Foundation Centre (EFC) are writing to you with a kind request to consider further modification of the European Commission proposal for the Multiannual Financial Framework regarding the European Values Instrument aimed at supporting the work of civil society organisations in EU countries.

In our opinion the European Commission proposal for the MFF presented on 2 May did not address the issue satisfactorily both in terms of the volume of funding and the substance.

We are convinced that raising the amount to at least the level of funding available for countries outside of the EU, i.e. 2 billion EUR in the seven-year budgetary perspective, is very needed taking into consideration the well-recognised challenge of shrinking space for civil society and the rise of populism in the European Union. Unfortunately, the “EU Values Fund” proposed by the Commission assumes only a minimal increase in funding – from 817 million EUR to 947 million EUR (which in view of inflation means no real increase). It also seems to merge already existing mechanisms: the Rights Equality and Citizenship and Europe for Citizens Programme.

There are some important issues that seem unclear and potentially worrying:

1) The figure in the budget for the Rights, Justice and Values Programme is a global one and it is not known how much of that will be earmarked for NGOs;
2) The programme’s financial regulations will follow the regular EU Financial Regulation, which means that the funds won’t be more accessible to local NGOs unless the European Commission finds some way to interpret them in a more reasonable way;
3) The topics that can be funded are limited to specific pieces of EU law and policy currently covered rather than the broader topics of democracy, rights, and the rule of law.
The EFC (www.efc.be) and DAFNE (www.dafne-online.eu) represent Europe’s institutional philanthropy sector with a collective membership of some 10,000 foundations and donor organisations.
We look forward to discussing these issues further with you or your representatives.

Yours sincerely,

Gerry Salole
Chief Executive EFC

Max von Abendroth
Executive Director DAFNE