Background

The Open Society Initiative for Europe seeks to empower Europeans and their civil society organizations to reinforce and, where necessary, reclaim their central role in European democracies. It aims to ensure that Europe’s common integration project, embodied by the European Union, contributes to the vitality and quality of European democracies based on the values of open society.

We build on a 30-year legacy of activity in Europe by the Open Society Foundations, begun in 1984. Since that time, the work of the Open Society Foundations has grown from Central and Eastern Europe, and the European Union’s newest member states, to Western Europe. The Open Society Initiative for Europe encompasses all of the European Union while remaining sensitive to local and national realities.

The Open Society Initiative for Europe contributes to building more vibrant and legitimate democracies in the European Union by working with a wide range of civil society organizations, rather than only at the elite level where the European debate is now overwhelmingly conducted. The Initiative places particular emphasis on strengthening less central voices, such as those in Europe’s geographic periphery, women and young people, proponents of non-mainstream ideologies or the social groups that are excluded from, or underrepresented in, the political process, such as migrants or refugees, stateless citizens, or minorities of all kinds.

Collaboration is an essential part of the Initiative’s work across Europe. We seek to engage with actors working to broaden the scope of national and European political debates, include new constituencies, and allow for a more meaningful participation of European citizens in the political process.

In Hungary, the Open Society Initiative for Europe provides institutional support to human rights and watchdog organizations, and supports anticorruption projects, investigative journalism, and other activities. In France, it supports, among others, organizations working to tackle discrimination and xenophobia. In Italy, it supports civil society organizations who seek to improve the situation for migrants there. These are just some of the countries where the Open Society Initiative for Europe operates.