Over the past two decades, ICNL has worked in every country in Central & Eastern Europe. Our programs in Europe are currently led by our affiliates, the European Center for Not-for-Profit Law (ECNL) and the Bulgarian Center for Not-for-Profit Law (BCNL).
ICNL and its affiliates have directly contributed to the passage of more than fifty laws supporting civil society organization (CSO) activity. Our work encompasses: (1) constitutional provisions governing the freedoms of association and assembly; (2) legislation governing the formation, registration, internal governance, and dissolution of organizations; (3) the tax and fiscal framework for CSOs and their donors; (4) the policy environment for CSO-government cooperation; (5) rules and mechanisms for state funding of civil society, (6) the legal framework for public participation, (7) the legal framework for volunteerism, and other issues affecting the enabling environment for civil society.
ICNL has clearly been a key actor in the development of legislation in the region over a long period of time. ICNL affiliates, ECNL and BCNL have become important contributors to the resolution of "second generation" legal issues [such as the legal framework for philanthropy, volunteering, and CSO-government cooperation]. Their involvement has been viewed as extensive, objective, expert, and sensitive to local conditions. ICNL experts bring a comparative overview and international weight that is valued by all sides in discussions.
USAID Evaluation Team
Throughout the region, we have worked to emphasize public participation, transparency, and local ownership over law-drafting processes. This has involved working closely with civil society leaders, government officials, and parliamentarians, thus promoting public participation and democratic practices in developing policies and legislation affecting civil society.
ECNL has emerged as an influential player on issues of relevance in the European Union, such as CSO-government cooperation, EU funding policy, and transparency and accountability. ECNL has partnered with the European Commission, the European Foundation Center, the Council of Europe, the UNDP Bratislava Regional Center for Europe and CIS, and other stakeholders to promote an enabling environment for CSOs in Europe and beyond.
[Y]our recent regional project on ‘Strengthening the Legal Framework for Citizen Action Through Freedom of Association’ [...] is considered by all stakeholders and us here in Brussels as a real success at both regional and in-country levels. This project could constitute a model which could inspire many participants and help them to better reflect on how to implement a project at regional level in a positive and result-oriented manner.
Jean-Charles de Cordes, EuropeAid Co-operation Office
ECNL is also conducting comparative research and assessments to help transfer knowledge, experiences, and good practices to countries in other regions.
BCNL is the leading organization on not-for-profit law affecting Bulgarian NGOs, and oversees the NGO Information Portal - the primary source of information about Bulgarian NGOs.