Liberties’ work to strengthen the impact of its members at the national level continues to be implemented through the CERV STRIVE 2023 project. The re-granting to its members aims to strengthen the executive office's coordinative role, allow national impact, and deepen the capacity building and communication activities from the regional to national level.
Building on Liberties’ achievements so far, the activities of STRIVE will (1) foster the network’s ability to provide an expert contribution to the promotion and protection of Union values, (2) strengthen and expand the network, (3) build members’ capacity to maximize impacts of their work (4) boost public awareness and engagement on EU values and how to protect them.
The regranting in the scope of CERV STRIVE 2023 has the following specific objectives:
- to support national initiatives furthering capacity-building for the use of the Charter of Fundamental Rights at the national level;
- to support national initiatives in advancing research and positioning the Charter in fundamental rights litigation;
- to support national initiatives in using the Charter through strategic advocacy and campaigning related to fundamental rights litigation based on recommendations and findings of the annual rule of law reports.
The awarded projects have the following expected results:
- developed strong partnerships between national initiatives in the use of the Charter of Fundamental Rights;
- increased national research and positioning of the Charter in fundamental rights litigation;
- increased advocacy and campaigns related to the use of the Charter to advance findings of the rule of law reports.
List of awarded projects
Bulgarian Helsinki Committee BHC (Bulgaria)
Project: Charter of Fundamental Rights in Bulgaria: Building strategic capacity, spreading rights awareness
According to a 2019 FRA survey, the Charter has yet to find its place in the daily work of civil society actors active in fundamental rights. One out of 10 (10%) respondents indicates that their organisation never uses the Charter, and only one in four (26%) uses it often. Two thirds (67%) believe that their organisation needs to exploit the full potential of the Charter. The area where the Charter is used least is litigation – 16%. Almost half (46%) of the CSOs report that the relevant staff in their organisation is not sufficiently aware of the Charter (FRA, EU Charter of Fundamental Rights: views of civil society and NHRI). BHC usually relies on the EU anti-discrimination directives and the ECHR in its strategic litigation. Furthermore, the BHC legal practitioner perceives that EU law is taught superficially, and there is no strong emphasis on it in university legal courses.
To address this gap, the project will:
- produce a practical analysis of the application of the Charter in the domestic case law in Bulgaria and in select Member States;
- undertake capacity-building of strategic CSOs (to act as multipliers), and of legal stakeholders nationally, to expand the potential for the use of the Charter;
- spread awareness about the Charter and the visibility on its use among the professional legal community in Bulgaria.
Estonian Human Rights Center (Estonia)
Project: Capacity-building and awareness-raising for Estonian legal staff on the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union
The project's objectives aim to address the issue of the importance of the Charter being under-appreciated in Estonia in general and especially in the field of law. Judges may need to pay more attention to references to the Charter, and lawyers must know they can refer to it. The protection of people's fundamental rights can be rugged if the importance of the Charter is not assessed, especially in the event of thematic strategic litigation cases.
The project aims to raise awareness of the Charter and thereby considerably increase its usability and importance. This is achieved through three lines of action:
- a survey of bottlenecks among judges and lawyers;
- developing and conducting a training programme;
- publishing the Charter through strategic communication.
Vox Pubic (France)
Project: Empower CSOs in France to implement efficient advocacy strategies to fight against discrimination and hate speech
For years, French CSOs have observed the succession of states of emergency, a political context with far-right parties getting stronger, the worrying spread of hate speech in the media and the public space, recent attacks against local projects to welcome migrants (some national media recently investigated on this phenomenon), etc. CSOs denounce the discriminatory narratives, propagandistic logic, and practices deriving from these elements. This project aims to empower the French CSOs to fight against discrimination, mainly based on race, colour, ethnic or social origin and real or supposed religion. Some CSOs, particularly those targeted by the far right for the first time, need expertise on the Charter and tools to ensure the continuity of their activities.
Hungarian Civil Liberties Union HCLU (Hungary)
Project: Civil Society Enforcing the Charter - Monitoring Charter Compliance of EU-Funded Programmes in Hungary
Monitoring Committees (MCs) oversee the different thematic programmes supported by EU cohesion and development funds and implemented by the Hungarian government in the 2021-2027 budget cycle. The HCLU became a member of the Human Resources Development Operational Programme Plus Monitoring Committee (EFOP+ MC) and the Recovery and Resilience Facility Monitoring Committee (RRF MC) through an open call for human rights defender NGOs.
Our dedicated role in the committees is to monitor the compliance of the programs with the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. As this role has not existed in previous funding cycles, Hungarian NGOs still need to build the capacity for it. The HCLU is dedicated to carrying on this activity in the upcoming years, and the first year of this work needs to be dedicated to capacity-building (research, training, etc.).
Polish Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights (Poland)
Project: Strengthening lawyers’ capacity to respond to SLAPPs through a practical guidebook
SLAPPs constitute a critical threat to freedom of expression, the rule of law and democracy in Poland, as recognised in the last EC and Liberties annual rule of law reports. While Polish law does not envisage dedicated, explicit anti-SLAPP legal safeguards, some legal measures could be used to fight against abusive lawsuits. However, many lawyers must be aware of such opportunities and remain underused. Lawyers are also sometimes unaware that they are dealing with a SLAPP case. In addition, there needs to be more knowledge that EU law may be relevant for SLAPP cases and that there is a space for using the Charter of Fundamental Rights.
At the same time, the growing recognition among the EU bodies (and among the CoE institutions) that SLAPPs constitute an important problem, leading to a growing set of international standards, constitutes a significant opportunity. Applying these standards in domestic cases could contribute to a change in the judiciary practice and improve the situation of SLAPP victims – provided that lawyers are aware of them and will know how to apply them in practice.
Within this project, we will produce a practical guidebook for lawyers on SLAPPs. The guidebook will show how to recognise and respond to a SLAPP in practice, including explaining the role of the Charter of Fundamental Rights in the process. To make the guidebook as practical as possible, we will consult those with first-hand knowledge of the practice and needs from the legal perspective – lawyers, prosecutors and judges – through focus groups and individual in-depth interviews. In addition, the guidebook will be based on the continuation of our previous in-depth research on the practice of SLAPPs and on our own continuous experience in conducting litigation in this area.