Civil Society in Central and Eastern Europe: Challenges and Opportunities

What is the general state of civil society in Central and Eastern Europe? In which direction is it developing in the respective countries? How much freedom do citizens have to voice their opinion and organise as civil society? How visible are they? What is the legal framework and what are the predominant sources of funding?

The Civil Society in Central and Eastern Europe: Challenges and Opportunities study gives answers to all of these questions. It is guided by the intention to develop a better understanding of the current state of Civil Society in Central and Eastern Europe, the diverse pathways of its development, and its possible future trajectories.

Civil society plays a highly unique role with great responsibility in our societies. By acting as a counterpart to the state and the market, it steps in where the public and private sectors fall short or even fail. By tackling system failures through advocacy, community building and service delivery, civil society exerts a major influence and makes a significant contribution to stable and just societies and states.

The research project was commissioned by ERSTE Foundation and implemented by the Social Entrepreneurship Center at the Vienna Unversity of Economics and Business (WU Vienna). The international team of authors comprised of 27 researchers from 16 countries in Central and Eastern Europe.

“We wish to express our deep gratitude to all contributing authors. They have put tremendous effort into gathering the most recent data available and complementing it with information on the recent history and potential future of civil society in their respective countries”, stated Boris Marte, Deputy Chair of the Managing Board of ERSTE Foundation.

The authors of this study have provided a diverse picture of civil society in Central and Eastern Europe. It helps to understand various emerging trends and highlights common patterns throughout the region. The publication is a valuable resource for the work of donors, policymakers and civil society actors, as well as academics.