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A union of 13 funds goes towards a stronger civil society

A union of 13 funds goes towards a stronger civil society

Almost 200 million euros allocated for strengthening civil society. Such support from the EEA/Norway Financial Mechanisms demonstrates the importance of civil society in the processes of democracy, human rights and social cohesion throughout Europe. It's being implemented by 13 funds in European countries within the framework of the Active Citizens Fund (ACF). One of these is the Latvian Active Citizens Fund, which joined the ACF family 3 months ago.

The implementation of the ACF program was started by the EEA/Norway Financial Mechanism Office in 2017. The program is currently being implemented by funds in Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia.

In all countries, the program is administered by national NGO Consortiums in cooperation with the Financial Mechanism Office. "NGOs that are an independent force are in a unique position to promote ideas, values and also accountability from the government," said Sjur Larsen, Director for Central Europe and EEA Grants in the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He added that the role of civil society as a watchdog, as a consultative body, and in engaging citizens has been and continues to be of great importance. NGO involvement and engagement help to reach a compromise, find solutions and focus on the common good for everyone.

Although the amount of funding for each fund and the strategic goals set by their NGO Consortiums for the development of civil society in every country differ, all funds share a common overarching objective - strengthening civil society and active citizenship and empowerment of vulnerable groups.



The most experienced administrator in the ACF family is the Bulgarian NGO Consortium, which signed an agreement on the implementation of the program on May 16, 2018 (the amount of the support - 15.5 million euros). At that time, in Latvia, the competition for NGO Consortiums to apply for the role of the ACF administrator just finished. Currently, the first projects are being implemented.

In its turn, at the end of 2019, by signing an agreement with the EEA/Norway Financial Mechanism Office, the Latvian NGO Consortium has become one of the newest members of the ACF family. The framework of activities to be supported has been developed based on the needs of civil society identified by the representatives of the NGO sector in autumn 2018. The projects will be implemented in four ACF programs: "Democratic Culture", "Human Rights", "Sustainability and Capacity" and "Bilateral and Regional Cooperation".

In its turn, in the other Baltic States - Estonia and Lithuania - Financial Mechanism Office's tenders for the selection of ACF administrators were organized in 2017 (in Estonia) and 2018 (in Lithuania). In these countries, the first project tenders have already finished, and the work on the implementation of the first projects begins.

It is known that Cyprus and Hungary also plan to join the ACF family after Latvia. The civil society in these countries is still waiting for their ACF to start operating.

We invite you to get acquainted with the activities of existing ACFs, to get ideas for your projects and learn about the activities of other organizations in Europe:


Country Million, EUR Contract signed About the program The web page of the fund
Bulgaria 15,5 16.05.2018.
Croatia 8,5 30.12.2019.
The Czech Republic 15 12.06.2018.
Estonia 4 18.02.2019.
Greece 12 22.01.2019.
Latvia 8,5 27.12.2019.
Lithuania 9 14.10.2019.
Malta 0,7 06.02.2019.
Poland 53 23.10.2019.
Portugal 11 09.07.2018.
Rumania 46 16.05.2019.
Slovakia 9 14.06.2018.
Slovenia 3 11.07.2019.


The set of projects, supported by the ACF in each country, shall seek to develop the long-term sustainability and capacity of civil society, strengthening its role in promoting democratic participation, active citizenship and human rights. Therefore, in all the countries the fund supports projects that contribute to the following areas:

  • 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.

Learn more about the program, operators in other countries and discover ideas on this program site. Alternatively, if you are looking for partners in Norway or elsewhere in Europe, check out this ACF partnership website.



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