In November 2012, the European Court of Justice ruled on an NGO Monitor petition concerning the EU’s lack of transparency in its NGO funding practices. The court found that the EU did not provide the documents requested by NGO Monitor in a timely fashion, and that this “must be regarded as an implicit decision to refuse access.” However, the ruling also upheld the denial of access, essentially permitting the EU to hide its funding decision-making from the public.
For the past decade, NGO Monitor has systematically tracked this funding. Our aim is to afford European taxpayers, officials, Israelis, and Palestinians to independently evaluate the impact and efficacy of this funding. As part of that process, in 2008, NGO Monitor submitted a detailed request to the EU, asking for documents related to NGO funding. After a delay of more than six months, the EU provided NGO Monitor with documents that were heavily redacted and whited out, covering up relevant information under the purported rationale of national security and proprietary interests.
Under the procedure mandated by the EU’s Freedom of Information guidelines, NGO Monitor, represented by Asserson Law Offices, next turned to the European Court of Justice. Our petition noted that the EU was blocking independent evaluation of its NGO funding decisions and preventing the public from knowing whether its practices are consistent with due process of law.
In its response to the court, the European Commission acknowledged that officials had censored the salient details, including “the conclusions of the monitoring” and “the conclusions of the audit[s],” as well as “additional remarks” made by evaluators. However, the court upheld the denial of access, issuing its decision without taking evidence or conducting hearings on NGO Monitor’s petition nor providing NGO Monitor an opportunity to appear before the court.
Op-eds by NGO Monitor Staff
- Transparent meddling, opaque funding: the EU and NGOs, Gerald M. Steinberg, Haaretz, January 08, 2013
- Looking beyond Jan. 22 , Gerald M. Steinberg, Jerusalem Report, January 14, 2013
- Irony of EU funding, Naftali Balanson, YNetnews, January 15, 2013 [in Die Welt]
- Who’s afraid of a little transparency?, Naftali Balanson, Israel Hayom, January 20, 2013
- Opening the door on EU funding, Yitzhak Santis, Jerusalem Post, January 23, 2013 (Letter to the editor by Ambassador Standley in response to “Opening the door on EU funding,” Jerusalem Post, January 27, 2013; Professor Steinberg’s response to Ambassador Standley, January 27, 2013)
Op-eds in Support of NGO Monitor
- Anti-Zionism by stealth, David Matas, Jerusalem Post, January 15, 2013
- When will the government confront the EU?, Douglas Murray, Spectator, January 04, 2013
- Debate the flaws of the Left, not just the Right, Gil Troy, Haaretz, January 16, 2013
- European double moral standard (Hebrew), Ben Dror Yemini, Maariv, December 29, 2012
Articles on ECJ Ruling
- EU court throws out NGO funding case brought by Israel-based group, Marcy Oster, JTA, December 24, 2012
- EU court rejects NGO Monitor petition to release details on Israeli rights groups, Chaim Levinson, Haaretz, December 25, 2012
- Court Dismisses Suit Against EU Body That Reportedly Funds Anti-Israel NGOs, Algemeiner, December 26, 2012
Articles and Op-eds Against NGO Monitor
- EU throws out NGO Monitor case, tells Gerald Steinberg to pick up the tab, Ami Kaufman, +972, December 23, 2012
- NGO Monitor stonewalls on use of tax-exempt funds to pay Gerald Steinberg’s legal costs in frivolous EU lawsuit, Ali Abunimah, Electronic Intifada, January 6, 2013
- The anti-democratic shadow over Israel, Hagai El-Ad, Haaretz, January 8, 2013
- In defense of NGO’s right to meddle, Elie Friedman, Haaretz, January 11, 2013
- Letter to the editor by author of “In defense of NGOs right to meddle,” Sorry for the hurtful words, Elie Friedman, Haaretz, January 22, 2013