Civil society in Europe

Why is civil society important?

Civil society plays a prominent role in addressing today’s multiple challenges. We do so in different ways, yet the goal is common: ensure that people and communities can live in dignity in fair, sustainable and caring societies.

From non-profit organisations, activists and defenders, volunteer organisations to philanthropic foundations, the work of civil society is unique and diverse. To fully unlock the potential of EU democracy, these diverse voices must be enabled and empowered to thrive.

Did you know that...

0 %
of Europeans think civil society has an important role in promoting democracy and common values
* Special Eurobarometer 477
0 %
of Europeans believe that civil society should operate freely and keep those in power accountable
* Special Eurobarometer 489
0 %
of Europeans regularly engage with civil society organisations
* Flash Eurobarometer on civic engagement
+ 0 m
Europeans volunteer for a non-profit organisation
* Volunteering in the European Union

Civil Society Stories

European Students' Union
European students’ community to ensure the involvement of youth


“The European Students’ Union (ESU) represents almost 20 million students from 40 different countries. The main aim of the organisation is to represent the interests of the students at the European level. ESU also aims to strengthen the student participation and input on local, national and European level. This all creates a wide student community. For me it’s vital that there’s coordination between all the student unions in Europe to make our voice heard during the elections and also afterwards.”

Katariina Järve, President of EÜL (Estonian National Union of Students)

Inter Alia
Inspiring social change


“Effective civic participation means being able to shape decisions that affect our lives. This ability, however, is not given: it has to be built, then translated into action. Inter Alia’s Heart Point of Civic Intervention is the space where collective needs, concerns and demands are articulated and voiced in public. It is a cross-border activism and organising hub where public actions and campaigns on heart-felt issues are designed and collective capacities, as well as individual skills, are developed and tried out.”

Martina Tresca, Advocacy Officer

Europiamo ETS
The biggest experiment on youth participation


“I joined Europiamo in 2020 when it was little more than an idea. Over the course of this time, I had a chance to witness first-hand the impact we had in Italy. We are a community that brings together youth and youth organisations in order to develop synergies and allow young people to realise their full potential and bring about a change in society. We give hope and empower a generation that has been neglected. It takes time and patience but one person at the time we will change the world!”

Federica Nestola, Board Member

European Liver Patients' Association - ELPA
The crucial nexus between patient associations and civil society


Patient associations, representing those navigating the complexity of various health conditions, serve as catalysts for positive change, fostering a sense of community and solidarity among people facing similar challenges. By bridging the gap between personal experiences and the broader societal landscape, they also play a pivotal role in shaping policies. This collaborative synergy amplifies the impact of civil society on healthcare systems, collective well-being, inclusivity, accessibility, equity.

Centre for European volunteering
Volunteering faces and voices across Europe


There are more than 100 million volunteers in Europe. By engaging with civil society organisations, they contribute to the European Social model, to security, peace, cohesion & prosperity. They provide a framework for an alternative narrative to extremist and anti-inclusive views and actions, contributing to its prevention.

YES Forum
Broading young people’s horizons


Our network aims that young people are able to realize their full potential and are given the opportunity to make a positive contribution to society. We engage them in a wide variety of activities to develop their skills and gain new ones. Their experiences showcase the positive impact of civic and political education that provides support for meaningful participation in society.

Other campaigns towards the 2024 EU elections

From health to human rights, from environment to international cooperation, from social rights to youth, European civil society has ideas and proposals for a better, fairer and more sustainable EU.
Six progressive proposals to deliver a Just Transition
Strengthening public health across the European Union
Vote Volunteer Vision
Social resilience needs to become a priority
Cultural Deal for Europe
European Youth Forum
EU For Global Justice
European Students’ Union
Building an inclusive future for persons with disabilities in the EU
10 priorities to secure health on the political agenda
Supporting Engagement in European Elections and Democratic Societies (SEEEDS)
European Civic Forum
End Racism to Build a Stronger Europe
European Philanthropy Manifesto
Blue Up 2024!
Vote for Animals 2024