The European Hub for Civic Engagement uses tech-driven solutions to network and strengthen European civil society.
It envisions a digital platform that allows civil society actors across Europe to create community, share ideas and resources, as well as rethink funding opportunities.
Latest News from the Hub & Our Community
The European Hub for Civic Engagement (Hub) uses tech-driven solutions to network and strengthen European civil society. The Hub envisions a digital platform that allows civil society actors across Europe to create community, share ideas and resources, and rethink funding opportunities.
In many European countries, civil society is being eroded and in several countries, civic organisations are even being forced to dissolve. This trend poses not only an existential threat to democracy but is also a roadblock to the current European integration process. As space for civil society shrinks, now is the time to work on supporting a diverse and sustainable civil society for Europe. Civil society is a potent antidote against the rise of authoritarian governments many democracies around the world are currently experiencing. As these undemocratic forces slither across national borders, it is imperative that civil society actors also collaborate on regional and European levels. Unfortunately, cross-border cooperation in Europe has proven to be difficult, as there is a lack of a central institution for civil society to turn to for community, information, and support.
We believe that recent digital advances can empower civil society across Europe. To help support an integrated civil society in Europe, we launched the pilot phase of the European Hub for Civic Engagement in 2019. The pilot phase’s main goal was to identify civil society’s current needs and the most pressing issues they face.
The pilot phase began by commissioning a report that compiled expert opinions on European civil society, its challenges and opportunities, as well as civic tech. The Hub then used the report’s findings as the framework for workshops in Gdansk and Lisbon, where invited civil society actors were able to debate and elaborate on the current main issues affecting their work and what their organisations would need to continue working. This feedback was categorised into four main challenges, which were then used as framing for civic tech actors at our hackathon in Tallinn to create four prototypes that directly address the needs of civil society organisations in Europe. Following the pilot phase, the Hub will continue by testing the prototypes and other digital tools in close collaboration with our target user groups and partners.
During the Hub’s pilot phase, we achieved our goal: we were successfully able to identify civil society’s needs through a collaborative process. We also learned that connecting and matching civil society actors across Europe should be the core of our work. As we move forward, we hope to match and network a wide range of civil society actors across Europe, so that they can build community, share ideas and resources, and access a larger pool of funding opportunities.
As the Hub continues to grow, we look forward towards embodying the Hub spirit by working at the intersection of civil society, technology, and politics, and to together turn the Hub into a reality.
Our pilot phase confirmed our project’s philosophy: when we listen to and involve civil society actors in the creation process, the more relevant and empowering our digital platform will become. The pilot phase also highlighted just how talented and capable a networked European civil society is, and also the urgent need to create a central platform that continues to build a collaborative European civil society. We now have the needs, desires and recommendations we collected from civil society. And through working with civil society actors from all over Europe, our next step is crystal clear: we want to build digital tools to match and network civil society actors across Europe!
Starting in January 2020, together with “Citizens for Europe” and “Alliance4Europe” – the pledged cooperation from the “BMW Foundation” – and with the financial support of the “Open Society Foundations”, we will develop a community management tool. This digital tool will have three matchmaking functions: an index of European civil society organisations, a calendar with current events, and a classifieds section with requests from civil society.
To support these next steps, we are planning in-person meetings with an expanded group of civil society actors, which will also includes participants from the art and culture sectors. As our prototypes are tested and given input by civil society actors, our digital tools will continue to organically grow. And that is precisely our goal for 2020: to grow our digital platform through connecting, matching, and networking civil society actors across Europe.
As we enter this second phase of expansion, we would like to thank all of our partners and participants. Without their active involvement, the Hub would still be just a seed. With the lessons from our prototypes in hand and a growing list of partners, we are excited to continue growing our network. Come join our project and let us work together to make the Hub a living ecosystem for European civil society in 2020 and beyond.
Together, Das Progressive Zentrum, Alliance4Europe and Citizens for Europe are building a community management tool (read a little more about it in the “Vision 2020+” section above). Find out more about all three organisations:
Das Progressive Zentrum (DPZ) is an independent Berlin think tank founded in 2007. DPZ aims to bring evidence-based knowledge and innovation-oriented policy ideas into the public debate and onto the political agenda, in accordance with the triad “Forethought – Networking – Dispute”. We are convinced that a central key to meeting current socio-political challenges lies in the critical-constructive debate on fundamental questions of the future: How do we as a society want to live together today and in the future? How can genuine social cohesion be achieved at regional, national and European level? What democratic innovations and habitual, cultural and institutional innovations are needed to keep our societies strong?
Alliance4Europe (A4E) is a non-profit organization with the mission of safeguarding and advancing democracy in Europe by providing an agile focal point of a network of civil society groups and citizens in Europe. The organization coordinates pro-European actors and campaigns, facilitates the exchange of best practices, and promotes pro-European narratives. Its objectives are the strengthening of existing initiatives and the establishment of new collaboration that facilitate impact. It aims to build a platform for cooperation for all pro-European actors. It was created following a series of round-table discussions among groups of pro-European pro-democratic movements and civil society organizations, including representatives of such groups as Pulse of Europe, the Good Lobby, the European Front, the Union of European Federalists, together with representatives of business and politics.
Citizens For Europe (CFEU) was initiated in 2010 by a small team of experts from several civil society organizations. For strategic development a Core Team was formed to drive this network further. The Core Team is the decision making body for support and development that helps civil society organizations connect with peers all over Europe. The group comprises of grant makers and grantees who carry the project and collectively decide about any support given. With this setup CFEU became a civil society infrastructure that specializes in 1) networking and thematic exchange for a community of CSOs as well as 2) awarding of seed funding for projects with democratic innovation potential.