Civil Rights

Government-Civil Society Relations: international conference 2011. January 11.

Government-Civil Society Relations: international conference

Since 2003, the Civil-Partner Program of the Hungarian Environmental Partnership Foundation has been working with the goal to establish a legal and regulatory environment supporting the Hungarian civil society development and sustainability. Cooperating with a wide range of NGO leaders, legal and other experts, supporting researches and analyses, the Program makes and sends concepts and concrete proposals to the decision makers, government and legislative representatives.

Many years of efforts have fortunately met with the initiative announced by the new government, which aimed to revise and redefine the entire non-profit legislation also asking the opinion and advice of NGOs.

Among others, these developments encouraged us to organize the conference “Government-Civil Society Relations: Benefits and challenges of supporting civil society” on November 25, 2010.

The international event provided a Central European overview of the direct and indirect forms of government-civil society relations, namely the public benefit status and state financing of CSOs, with a special focus on the recent studies analyzing the current Hungarian situation, recommendations for its improvement and the comparisons to current trends in the neighboring countries. The conference was held back-to-back with a smaller expert meeting; presentations and materials may be downloaded here.

Hosted by Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights, Minority, and Religious Affairs, the event was co-organized with the European Center for Not-for-Profit Law (ECNL) and HEPF in the Representatives Office Building. Another goal of the conference was to present the results of the research and conceptual works of the past 1,5-2 years with special attention to two fields: the reform of the public benefit system, addressing the problems of indirect state-civil relations as well as the problems of grant-funding relations. The conference was opened by Dr. Tamás Lukács, Committee Chairman, the government’s plans and their schedule was presented by Csaba Latorcai, Deputy Secretary of State (Ministry of Public Administration and Justice), and the plans related to the transformation of the support procedures were presented by Dr. Ákos Kajdi, Head of Department (Ministry of National Development). Besides the local speakers – Veronika Móra (HEPF), Nilda Bullain (ECNL) and Endre Bíró (Legal Knowledge Foundation) - foreign non-government and government experts described the similar legislative processes in Central-East Europe as well as their experience with it, and there was an opportunity for the audience to get answers for their questions.
In the conference which may have been the largest of its kind, more than 100 participants took part: a majority of NGOs from several parts of the country, however, there were also visitors from various ministries, local governments and other institutions as well.

The conference was supported by the “Europe for Citizens” Program of the European Union

The linked presentations can be downloaded

Civil and governmental policies - compass to the legal reform

Opening Remarks: Tamás Lukács, Chair of the Committee on Human Rights, Minorities, Civil and Church Affairs of the Hungarian Parliament

Civil Vision - overall concept of the nonprofit legal reform and current initiatives
Speaker: Veronika Móra, Ökotárs Alapítvány (Hungarian Environmental Partnership Foundation)

Reform initiatives of the Hungarian Government in the legislation affecting CSOs
Speaker: dr. Csaba Latorcai, Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Public Administration and Justice



Indirect recognition of NGOs - public benefit status

Lessons’ learned and reform proposals in Hungary
Speaker: Nilda Bullain, European Center for Not-for-Profit Law

Roundtable on good practices and on-going legislative initiatives in New Member States

The roundtable addressed the key aspects of the public benefit status in the different countries of Europe, including definition and criteria of the public benefit status, benefits provided to public benefit organizations and their monitoring and supervision.

Speakers: Czeslaw Walek, Human Rights Section, Office of the Government of the Czech Republic, Grzegorz Makowski, Institute for Public Affairs, Poland (TBC), Ben Evans, Charity Commission International Programme, UK, Jurgen Baidenmann, Manager ANBI Team, Dutch Tax Authority (Oost-Brabant) (TBC)



 Direct state financing of CSOs  -  A European perspective

Supporting CSOs – EU guidelines and practices
Speaker:  EC representative (TBC)

Challenges and solutions in CSO Financing – experiences of New Member States
The panel focused on the rules, procedures and conditions of state financing of civil society organizations, thus not so much on what and with how much governments support them, but on how is funding distributed, contracted, used and reported about.

Grzegorz Makowski, Institute for Public Affairs, Poland (TBC)
Ancuta Vamesu, Romania (TBC)
Jon Ender, Volunteer Development Estonia (TBC)
Public funding in Slovakia



Direct state financing of CSOs – Hungary

Analysis of the current situation in Hungary
Speaker: dr. Endre Bíró, Jogismeret Alapítvány (Right-to-Know Foundation)

Governmental concept for reform in public financing of NGOs in Hungary
Speaker: dr. Ákos Kajdi, Head of Department, Ministry of National Development

Open debate with the audience

Closing remarks

Speaker:  Tímea Szabó, MP, Human Rights and Minorities Committee of the Hungarian Parliament


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