Open letter from the members of the Civil Society Development Council

  •  May 18, 2021

On the 14 of May, 2020, the government’s press service announced the members of the Civil Society Development Council (CSDC). 14 organizations were selected by electronic voting of the non-governmental sector with a remarkable turnout of 75% of all organizations that were registered to vote. The Bulgarian Fund for Women is one of the selected organizations.

According to the Law on Non-Profit Legal Entities, the Council is an advisory body to the government, which participates in the development and implementation of policies for the development of civil society in Bulgaria. However, a whole year after the election of members, the Council still does not work officially, because the Council of Ministers has not adopted a decision to legalize its composition.

This impedes the already difficult dialogue between NGOs and the executive power in Bulgaria. What is more, this interaction between us, was and continues to be extremely necessary, especially in a period of severe health, social and economic crisis.

Although isolated, we – the elected members of the CSDC, as well as a large part of the civil sector – have mobilized and joined forces to help the society during this difficult time. Thanks to numerous donations and volunteer initiatives organized by civil society organizations, hundreds of hospitals, social institutions and thousands of people and families were supported in the first months of the COVID related crisis. Currently, we continue to work helping citizens most affected by the crisis.

Over the last year, we have continued to take an active position on important issues related to the functioning of civil society, including:

  • 303 non-governmental organizations united against the attempt of a group of MPs to pass discriminatory changes in the Law on Non-Profit Legal Entities, which unjustifiably introduced disproportionate obligations and restrictions for the civil sector and limited the powers of the newly established CSDC.
  • We have developed and disseminated a position for strengthening the civil sector and its empowerment, as well as a clear procedure for its inclusion in the implementation of the future Plan for Reconstruction and Sustainability of Bulgaria which will be part of EU’s Plan.
  • Through the Public Council of the Parliamentary Committee on Interaction with Non-Governmental Organizations and Citizens’ Complaints, we demanded from Deputy Prime Minister Tomislav Donchev and Minister of Finance Kiril Ananiev for a clear and specific justification of subsidies and other current transfers to NGOs provided for in the 2021 state budget.
  • We alerted 70 civil society organizations against the proposed amendments to the Child Protection Act, which called into question the protection of child victims of violence.

We – the legitimately elected members of the CSDC – hope for the establishment of the Civil Society Development Council as soon as possible and are ready for active work in the future advisory body to the Council of Ministers. As part of the Council, we are aware of our responsibility to create conditions both for the support of civil society organizations and for the effective use of their experience and professionalism to overcome challenges and facilitate the development of Bulgaria.

This Open Letter is supported by the following organizations:

Association of the European Journalists – Bulgaria

“Association of parks in Bulgaria”

“Bulgarian Association for Alternative Tourism”

Bulgarian Donors’ Forum Association

Bulgarian Red Cross Association

Bulgarian Helsinki Committee Association

“Equilibrium” Association

Bulgarian Fund for Women Foundation

Bulgarian Center for Non-Profit Law Foundation

“For Our Children” Foundation

“Teach for Bulgaria’” Foundation

“Karin Dom” Foundation

“Civic Initiatives Workshop” Foundation

“Maria’s World” Foundation

Image: Sketchbook

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