PROTEUSProtecting EU Values and Fundamental Rights through Public Participation and Civil Society Assistance in Central Europe
A strong and vibrant civil society is an essential prerequisite for pluralist liberal democracy.
This crucial role has increasingly exposed civil society to attacks. Accelerating democratic demise, social polarization, and political autocratization undermine the functioning and vitality of civil society across the EU. The result has been, for at least a decade now, the phenomenon of “shrinking space” for civil society.
The EU Citizens, Equality, Rights and Values (CERV) project PROTEUS addresses these challenges to civil society in eight Central European countries: Bulgaria, Croatia, Czechia, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia.
The overall aim of PROTEUS is to strengthen civil society organizations (CSOs) and civic initiatives, as well as to empower civil activists, so that they are able to protect, promote, and raise awareness of European values and fundamental rights--above all democracy, the rule of law, human rights, the equality of men and women, and the non-discrimination against persons belonging to minorities—and the rights of EU citizens as enshrined in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. The project does so by providing targeted grants and tailor-made capacity-building to Central European CSOs and increasing their fundraising, management, and advocacy capacities, with a strong focus on civic actors in peripheral and rural areas.
In its work, PROTEUS pursues the following four objectives:
- Supporting democratic participation, public deliberation, and inclusion
- Strengthening CSO resilience to shrinking space
- Protecting and promoting EU values and fundamental rights, with a special focus on peripheral and rural areas
- Supporting civic activism in peripheral and rural areas
As a CERV project, PROTEUS is funded by the European Commission and spans the period from January 2023 to December 2025.
Our Implementation PartnersExpand All
Sofia Platform Foundation-Bulgaria
The Sofia Platform Foundation is a nongovernmental organization established in 2013. For the last nine years, Sofia Platform has focused on civic activism, civic education, and the recent history of Bulgaria and Central Europe. It has reached thousands of citizens through public outreach, online and offline, and it has worked with over 1,500 students in over 100 schools and more than 800 teachers across Bulgaria.
CERANEO is a think-and-do tank with a focus on social policy, which promotes innovative approaches and advocates for civic participation and a greater role for civil society. Since its establishment in 1995, CERANEO has been a key resource center for civil society development in Croatia. It analyzes civil-society-related legislative processes; promotes open, transparent, and responsive policymaking; organizes public discussions; and conducts civil-society-related advocacy work. For over ten years, CERANEO has been the Croatian national implementation and research partner in USAID’s CSO Sustainability Index.
The Via Foundation (VF) is an independent Czech community and philanthropy development foundation. VF supports CSOs and civic activists working collaboratively to improve their local communities. VF runs micro-grant programs for CSOs and engaged citizens of all ages, operates an online donation tool, and often combines grantmaking with capacity-building offers. Since its establishment in 1997, VF has supported more than 6,000 projects in one-fifth of all municipalities in Czechia.
Power of Humanity Foundation-Hungary
The Power of Humanity Foundation (PHF) works for a democratic society where human rights and equal opportunities prevail, and it fights against the negative impact of shrinking space for civil society. For that purpose, it strengthens local communities, fosters public participation, and raises awareness of fundamental rights. PHF was established in 2006 and since then it has emerged as a key civic resource center outside of Hungary’s capital city Budapest.
Over the past 13 years, the Shipyard Foundation has worked to create and promote effective solutions to social problems, involving citizens in deciding on public matters, and helping organizations and local governments to plan and implement social activities. Toward this end, Shipyard pursues activities in three key areas: research and counselling, social innovation, and civic participation.
Resource Center for Public Participation-Romania
The Resource Center for Public Participation (CeRe) is a Romanian CSO established in 2006. CeRe’s work is rooted in the belief that the state should serve its citizens and respond to their concerns in public matters. Toward this vision, CeRe supports citizens, activists, informal groups, and CSOs in engaging public institutions and making civic voices heard. CeRe is engaged in community organizing, and it supports advocacy and activism to improve public participation.
Partners for Democratic Change-Slovakia
Partners for Democratic Change Slovakia (PDCS) is a CSO providing education, capacity-building and facilitation services, consultancy, and counselling in the fields of conflict resolution, support of social dialogue, civic participation, and the development of civil society in Slovakia and abroad. PDCS’s mission is to educate people and activists to foster public participation. Since its founding in 1991, PDCS has focused on civil society development through training programs for CSOs and community leaders, contributing to civic actors’ strategic development, sustainability, self-financing, and fundraising.
SLOGA is a CSO platform working in the fields of international development cooperation, CSO capacity-building, civic education, and humanitarian aid. It was registered in 2006 as a legal entity by 19 nongovernmental organizations in Slovenia. SLOGA’s main goal is to enhance respect for human rights, equal opportunities, civic education, sustainable development, and the greater integration of vulnerable social groups into decision-making processes on development cooperation at home and abroad. Since 2015, SLOGA has been coordinating the work of Slovenian CSOs and humanitarian organizations in the context of the refugee crisis.