Fundamental Rights Platform annual meeting 2022

Online only
Organised By
FRA event
The meeting will take place online on Thursday, 10 November 2022 from 13:30-17:00 CET.

The theme of this year's meeting is: How can civil society help strengthen the rule of law in the European Union? And how can the rule of law help strengthen civil society?

Respect for the rule of law is one of the founding values of the European Union (EU). Acknowledging the risk of erosion of this value, the European Commission established the European Rule of Law Mechanism, as a preventive tool which aims to promote the rule of law and prevent challenges from emerging or it deteriorating. The European Commission’s annual report on the rule of law is a core component of this Mechanism. The report acknowledges the important role that civil society organisations play for supporting institutional systems of checks and balances pertaining to the rule of law.

FRA’s 2022 annual update on civic space in the EU provides an overview of how civil society is contributing to this in many ways. It emphasizes the role that civil society plays in promoting a strong rule of law culture in the EU.

Drawing on these reports, this year’s annual meeting of the Fundamental Rights Platform will focus on how civil society can best contribute to strengthening the rule of law in their countries, and on what can be done to support civil society organisations in this endeavour. 

Civil society organisations can find out how to register for the FRP here.

For more information about data protection, participants may refer to the Privacy Notice on expert meetings and the Privacy Notice on online meetings held using Webex.


13:30 Join us for a digital welcome coffee (bring your own coffee or tea!)

13:50 Introduction of the meeting rules by moderator and facilitator Jacki Davis 

14:00-15:30 Part I: State of play of the rule of law in the EU 

14:00 Opening remarks by Michael O’Flaherty, Director of the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) 

14:10 Special address by Oleksandra Matviichuk, Head of the Board of the Centre for Civil Liberties (Ukraine), co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize 2022 

14:20 Dialogue with Didier Reynders, European Commissioner for Justice 

14:55 Panel discussion: How can civil society help strengthen the rule of law? And how can the rule of law help strengthen civil society? 

  • Sirpa Rautio, Director of the Finnish Human Rights Centre and Chairperson of the European Network of NHRIs (ENNHRI)
  • Michael Meyer-Resende, Director, Democracy Reporting International  

  • Simona Constantinescu, Head of Development and Advocacy, Civil Society Development Foundation Romania, and member of Council of Europe’s Expert Council on NGO law  

  • Michael O’Flaherty, Director of the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) 


15:30-15:45 BREAK 


15:45-17:00 Part II: Civil society and the rule of law – practical tools 

15:45 Framing of Part II by Waltraud Heller, civic space expert at FRA

15:50 Breakout sessions hosted by CSOs  

  1. Rule of law ‘from below’ and the role of the civil society.

    Rule of law talk tends to center on states and international organisations as those responsible for its protection. But what is the role of individuals, groups and organisations – in short civil society – in upholding and defending the rule of law? How and what does the rule of law mean, both as a concept and tool, when taken up from below by the individuals it is supposed to protect? This breakout room is a conversation about how those beyond formal state institutions, who do not have constitutional or other formal legal roles, take it upon themselves to uphold and defend (elements of) the rule of law and about why civil society needs the rule of law in order to do its work. Let’s discuss!

    Session lead: Prof. Dr. Antoine Buyse, Professor of Human Rights at Utrecht University and Director of the Netherlands Institute of Human Rights.

  2. From problem to solution – how can digital tools strengthen the rule of law?

    Digital solutions have posed new challenges for both the rule of law and human rights. But how can this (now indispensable) progress be used to protect democracy and fundamental rights? And what role can civil society play in this? The aim of the session is an active exchange of knowledge and ideas.

    Session lead: Dr Paloma Krõõt Tupay, Lecturer in Constitutional Law at the University of Tartu, Estonia; Member of the Supervisory Council of the Estonian Human Rights Centre and Alternate Member of FRA’s Management Board.

  3. Communicating the rule of law – how to get the message across?

    The rule of law is a highly complex topic. Relaying its importance and explaining the various developments to the general public is a challenge for civil society, policymakers and journalists. The difficulty in explaining what the rule of law is and why it matters is confounded by active disinformation coming from governments and actors seeking to erode the rule of law. This breakout session will focus on exploring these challenges and looking at ways to improve messaging and explaining related topics to courts and judges.

    Session lead: Jakub Jaraczewski, Research Coordinator at Democracy Reporting International.

  4. Towards an EU Civil Society Strategy

    Civil society organisations, such as citizens’ associations, NGOs and public benefits foundations, and human rights defenders are instrumental to effective democratic participation and resilience, both at European and national level. Their role is key to building public spaces, upscale participatory democracy and channel citizens’ participation, empowering those that would otherwise be excluded. Unfortunately, evidence from the ground and documented also in research and in FRA reports and in the European Commission rule of law report, shows growing obstacles and attacks affecting civil society’s ability to act. Despite these findings EU action remains piecemeal and lacks effectiveness. There is a gap between EU engagement towards civil society within the EU and externally. The workshop will identify the EU tools to respond to the challenges faced by civil society by developing concrete policy recommendations for a comprehensive and long term European Civil Society Strategy and identify strategic partnerships, notably in the context of the preparation of the future Defense of Democracy Package within the review of the European Democracy Action Plan.

    Session lead: Carlotta Besozzi, Coordinator at Civil Society Europe, and Giada Negri, Research and Advocacy coordinator at the European Civic Forum.

  5. Rule of law conditionality vs. ‘fundamental rights conditionality’ and enabling conditions – new tools, old habits?

    Since its entry into force, the conditionality regulation offered the possibility to suspend EU funding to EU countries overrule of law concerns. The session will explore the main challenges over the implementation of the conditionality mechanism and offer insights from civil society organisations engaged in this process to defend rule of law and fundamental rights. In addition, the new EU Common Provisions Regulation has introduced ‘horizontal enabling conditions on the effective application of the Charter’ which apply to EU structural funds.

    Session lead: Alessia Mora of Open Society Foundations Europe and Central Asia

  6. Implementation of EU court judgements – what are the problems and prospects?

    The session will address the current situation in terms of implementation of rulings of the two European supranational courts (CJEU and ECtHR), including implementation challenges and gaps. We will also look at ways to measure state performance, data and methodology, assess the effectiveness of mechanisms meant to supervise and secure implementation, and explore the channels to be used to secure better implementation: actors and procedures.

    Session lead: Dr Nino Tsereteli, Research Officer at Democracy Reporting International.

16:40 Reporting to the plenary from the breakout sessions 

16:55 Wrap-up of the meeting and outlining of next steps by Andreas Accardo, Head of Unit Institutional Cooperation and Networks at FRA 

17:00 End of the meeting 

About the Fundamental Rights Platform

The Fundamental Rights Platform (FRP) is FRA’s cooperation network with non-governmental organisations and institutions of civil society, as defined in Article 10 of FRA’s Regulation. The Platform brings together around 800 organisations, including non-governmental organisations, trade unions, employers’ associations and other professional organisations, churches, religious, philosophical and non-confessional organisations, universities and human rights defenders from across the EU and the countries that have obtained observer status with FRA (Albania, North Macedonia and Serbia).

The Platform’s annual meetings are designed to offer an opportunity to exchange and connect on pressing human rights issues. Participants in the Platform’s annual meeting generally represent the local, national, European and international levels. Approximately 200 participants are expected to attend this year’s meeting, bringing together a cross-section of organisations active on the Platform, as well as representatives from international organisations, the European Parliament, the European Commission, EU agencies, national human rights institutions, equality bodies and many others.