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European Union

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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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Recent Work

Ukraine’s Other Front: State of Play and Prospects on Reforms

Ukrainian and EU-based experts will bring insights from the country, as well as an international dimension, to the discussion on the state of implementation of reforms in Ukraine.

Mapping a Path to Tolerance During a Time of Fear

In the aftermath of the Paris attacks, Jews, Muslims, and other marginalized groups came together for a landmark EU-level discussion on combating discrimination in Europe.

Unaccompanied Minors Struggle to Navigate a Chaotic Asylum System

A chaotic, dysfunctional system awaits young refugees entering Europe alone, pushing many of them onto the street or into forced labor.

The Countries That Gave Me a Second Chance as a Refugee

When Soviet troops invaded Czechoslovakia in 1968, this man faced violence and the loss of his family. But the countries that offered him refuge changed his life.

History Shows That Europe Can Handle a Refugee Influx

Looking back and comparing her experience to that of refugees today, one woman sees her case as a textbook example of how things should work.

A Polish Dissident’s Journey from Political Prison to New York City

After eight months of incarceration under martial law in Poland, a refugee made his way to the United States and found himself embraced by his adopted home.

Open Society People

heather grabbe
Director, Open Society European Policy Institute / Open Society Foundations EU Affairs (currently on sabbatical leave)
Open Society European Policy Institute

Upcoming Events


Ukrainian and EU-based experts will bring insights from the country, as well as an international dimension, to the discussion on the state of implementation of reforms in Ukraine.