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...

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

Civil Society Stories

SDG Watch Europe
Make Europe Sustainable For All


“SDG Watch Europe works in collaboration with a wide range of CSOs on joint policy briefs with a call to action and specific recommendations for Europe to step up its implementation of the SDGs. These briefs provide recommendations for the EU Commission in order to uphold the commitments and transition pathways laid out in the European Green Deal”
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.

Other campaigns around 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.
Vote Volunteer Vision
European Youth Forum
Building an inclusive future for persons with disabilities in the EU
Vote for Animals 2024
Social resilience needs to become a priority
Strengthening public health across the European Union
Six progressive proposals to deliver a Just Transition
For an inclusive feminist Europe
Supporting Engagement in European Elections and Democratic Societies (SEEEDS)
10 priorities to secure health on the political agenda
European Civic Forum
Blue Up 2024!
EU For Global Justice
European Students’ Union
Cultural Deal for Europe
European Philanthropy Manifesto
End Racism to Build a Stronger Europe