Key information about the programme
- The programme is operated by: Civil Society Development Foundation (lead) in consortium with the Romanian Environmental Partnership Foundation, Resource Center for Roma Communities, PACT Foundation and Frivillighet Norge.
- The programme’s objective is: Civil society and active citizenship strengthened and vulnerable groups empowered
- The programme funding amounts to €46 million and is funded entirely by the EEA Grants.
Why is the programme needed?
The Active Citizens Fund in Romania reflects a firm recognition of the civil society sector’s role as a fundamental building block of democratic governance, human rights and social cohesion. Civil society organisations (CSOs) mobilise participation in civic life and play a key role in promoting active citizen engagement in decision-making at local, national and European levels. CSOs tackle social problems arising from inequality and discrimination. They contribute to the activation and empowerment of disadvantaged people and minority groups, by helping them overcome barriers to participation and ensure that their voices are heard.
While diverse and dynamic, significant challenges prevent the Romanian civil society sector from reaching its full potential. A key issue is related to financial sustainability, the lack of which has a negative impact on the continuity and viability of CSOs’ activities, as well as the ability to attract qualified staff. Many CSOs rely on foreign and public sources of funding, which might be limited in duration and coverage, as well as difficult to access for small and less experienced organizations. Further obstacles are related to regional disparities in the number of registered and active CSOs, relatively limited CSO engagement in advocacy and policy monitoring, and a lack of visibility of CSO activities. Furthermore, in order to better respond to current and future societal challenges and increase the contribution of the sector to a democratic, inclusive and active society, increased cooperation and exchange between CSOs in Romania and at a regional level is needed.
What will the programme achieve and who are the beneficiaries?
By the end of programme period, the Active Citizens Fund in Romania will have contributed to a civil society sector that is increasingly proactive and better equipped to face challenges in the country and in the region. Dedicated support activities undertaken by the Fund Operator and three specific capacity building calls will strengthen the organizational skills and sustainability of individual CSOs and increase their visibility as vehicles for enhancing democracy and social justice. Effort is made to ensure the accessibility of funding and support to underserved geographical areas and target groups. Youth inclusion is a horizontal concern and will be addressed in a pre-defined project, which aims at educating and equipping future leaders of the civil society sector with necessary skills. Roma inclusion and empowerment are key priorities to which a minimum of 10% of the programme’s re-granting funds is earmarked. The programme will support coalitions and networks across the thematic areas of support, both in Romania and at a regional level, to promote the sharing of best practice, improve advocacy, and foster dialogue with national and European policymakers.
The Active Citizens Fund in Romania covers the following six areas of support:
- Democracy, active citizenship, good governance and transparency
- Human rights and equal treatment through combating any discrimination on the grounds of racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, gender, disability, age, sexual orientation or gender identity
- Social justice and inclusion of vulnerable groups
- Gender equality and gender-based violence
- Environment and climate change
- Capacity building for NGOs
How will the programme strengthen bilateral relations?
The programme will contribute to strengthening bilateral relations between CSOs and other entities in Romania and in the Donor States, in line with the overall objectives of the Grants. Bilateral cooperation shall be mutually beneficial, based on a strategic and long-term perspective, and leveraging the respective strengths of entities in the Donor States and in Romania. Donor partnership projects will be facilitated through matchmaking events and activities in conjunction with the launch of calls for proposals and encouraged in call texts. The Norwegian consortium partner will play a key role in reaching out to relevant Norwegian entities and in facilitating expertise and experience-sharing, including in the scope of the pre-defined project.
Availability of funding through open calls
In addition to one pre-defined project, the funding in this programme will be made available through 14 open calls, the first of which will be published Q3 2019. More information about the programme and upcoming calls can be found on the Fund Operator’s website.