Civil society in the post-communist EU states : Is democratic backsliding affecting CSO presence, access, and funding at the EU level?
Abstract: The EU enlargements in 2004 and 2007 welcomed post-communist states in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) as member states of the union. This influx of new CEE member states not only changed the power dynamics of the EU, but it also highlighted institutional contrasts between the old fifteen member states (EU-15) and those from the CEE region. In recent years some of the CEE member states have also experienced what has been identified as ‘democratic backsliding’. This thesis aims to contribute to the understanding of civil society development in the EU, comparing the development of the new CEE member states to the old EU-15. In addition to comparing these two blocs, it also examines if states associated with ‘democratic backsliding’ show similar developmental trends. The analysis is based on civil society presence, access, and funding at the EU level drawing on data from the EU institutions as well as previous research. The main findings of the analysis support the idea that the CEE member states are developing civil societies more akin to those in the EU-15 to some extent. However, there is major intragroup variation within the CEE member states. This also holds true for the group of ‘democratic backsliders’. The main contribution from this thesis is that it provides a regional mapping of civil society in the post-communist EU states useable for further research. In addition, it highlights areas where more in-depth research should be focused on.
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