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European Union

The Open Society Foundations work to influence and inform European Union policies to ensure that open society values are at the heart of what the EU does, both inside and outside its borders.

The Open Society Foundations share the values on which the European Union was founded, and seek toensure that the freedoms, rights, and principles that it espouses are put into practice in Europe andelsewhere in the world. We regard many of the EU’s policies, funding and legal instruments as providinga vital infrastructure for the most vulnerable people in Europe, and an enabling environment for vibrantdemocratic pluralism.

For example, the Racial Equality Directive seeks to combat discrimination on the grounds of racial orethnic origin; the Data Protection Directive protects the privacy of individuals and seeks to ensure thatpersonal data can only be gathered legally under strict conditions, for a legitimate purpose; and theDirective on the Rights, Support and Protection of Victims of Crime seeks to ensure that victims arerecognized, treated with respect and receive proper protection, support and access to justice. EU fundsoffer substantial support to civil society in Europe that can promote the inclusion of marginalizedpeople, and we work to ensure that they achieve these goals in implementation.

In the EU’s 28 member-states, recent political and economic turmoil presents serious challenges for theopen society. Tolerance, accountability and even democratic governance are at risk in parts of the EU.Open Society seeks to prevent the rolling back of democratic values by promoting the application ofuniversal values—including democracy, fundamental rights and the rule of law—in EU policies andactions, and also at national and regional levels of government.

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Programs

The following Open Society programs focus on this topic.

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Recent Work

Voices
Breaking News No More: Life for Roma in Greece a Year after “Maria”  

The story of Maria, a blonde Roma girl, made world news in 2013. A year later, what’s life like for Roma in Greece?

Voices
Ukraine Needs Decentralization, Done Right

Fears that decentralization will serve big business and separatists in the east mean some in Ukraine want to stall the process. This would be wrong.

Voices
European Commission’s New Leadership Creates Momentum for Fundamental Rights

The European Commission’s first vice-president has the political power and momentum to protect fundamental rights in the EU. Will he do so?

Explainer
Understanding Migration and Asylum in the European Union

The real crisis around migration is in Europe’s poor response to irregular migrants and asylum seekers, including the EU’s ability to keep people safe and secure.

Voices
On the Bride’s Side: A Conversation with Filmmaker Gabriele Del Grande  

Filmmaker Gabriele Del Grande discusses his documentary On the Bride’s Side, which details the journey from Milan to Stockholm made by five undocumented Syrian and Palestinian refugees.

Briefing Paper
2014 and Beyond: Priorities for the European Union

This briefing paper presents policy areas that require an effective EU response and where Open Society has expertise as a donor and advocate of human rights and universal values.

Open Society People

heather grabbe
Director, Open Society European Policy Institute / Open Society Foundations EU Affairs
Open Society European Policy Institute, Think Tank Fund