For more than a decade, NGO Monitor has been raising concerns about transparency in EU funding frameworks. On December 18, 2018, a special report released by the European Court of Auditors (ECA) confirmed these concerns, finding that there is a severe transparency deficiency in EU funding to NGOs.

The ECA report notes that the EU “was not sufficiently transparent regarding the implementation of EU funds by NGOs” and “does not have comprehensive information on all NGOs supported” by taxpayer funds. Additionally, EU funding via the United Nations is particularly non-transparent and unaccountable. According to the report, “UN bodies’ procedures for selecting NGOs lacked transparency” and “the UN bodies directly awarded sub-grants to NGOs without adhering to their own internal procedures.”

This report is an important step in ensuring not only transparency in the use of EU public funds in support of NGOs, but also effectiveness in development aid. The ECA report will help facilitate in-depth discussion on how to empower civil society without wasting EU funding.

The publication of this report followed an announcement that the European Commission was halting funds for the UK-based Islamic Human Rights Commission over links to Iran — information that had been in the public sphere for years.

NGO Monitor reports and analyses have repeatedly documented the EU’s secretive, cumbersome, and complex NGO funding mechanisms. NGO Monitor will continue to encourage governments across Europe to implement guidelines to increase transparency in funding for NGOs.