Jerusalem 18/12/18 – Confirming concerns raised by NGO Monitor for more than a decade, a special report released today (Tuesday) by the European Court of Auditors (ECA) found a severe transparency deficiency in EU funding to Civil Society Organizations (CSOs).

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, with “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.”

NGO Monitor Europe Desk Director Olga Deutsch applauded the publication, saying “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.”

She added that “We hope the ECA report will be taken seriously by the outgoing and incumbent European Parliament in order to facilitate in-depth discussion on how to empower civil society without wasting EU funding. In the realm of external action, cooperation and development aid via NGOs can contribute positive life-changing outcomes, but in the absence of transparency and accountability, the potential for harm and conflicts of interest is great.”

The ECA report follows last week’s 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 cumbersome and complex NGO funding mechanisms. These frameworks allow conflicts of interests, “double dipping,” creation of echo chambers, and in some cases misuse of funds and mandate.

Representative examples resulting from our research include:

Palestinian NGO Network (PNGO)— currently the recipient of a €445,000 EU grant — which led the boycott of USAID funding, following US government demands that NGO grantees sign anti-terrorism clauses as part of their funding agreements, and condemned the EU Partnership for Peace.

London-based NGO LINKS, a member of the EU peacebuilding programme for Nagorno-Karabakh, did not provide financial reports for three years while receiving 85% of its budget from EU funds. LINKS did not even legally exist for seven months during which it reportedly received funding.