In April 2017, the English version of the full State of Civil Society Report 2016 with cases of Germany, Hungary, Poland, Russia, and Spain went to the printers.
Simultaneously, 12 civil society researchers and practitioners from Bulgaria, Finland, Germany, Italy, Lithuania, the Netherlands, and Russia came together on 21-22 April 2017 for a kick-off meeting on the report 2017 in St. Petersburg, Russia. This meeting became possible thanks to a friendly support of the Centre for German and European Studies.
At the workshop in St. Petersburg, the experts developed a methodology for the Report 2017, which will be published in February 2018 and presented at the 8th General Assembly of the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum as well as discussed future perspectives and possibilities in establishing a platform for the Civil Society research within the newly established EU-Russia Civil Society Forum Association in Germany.
‘I had a great time at the workshop, and I am convinced that we made substantial progress in further developing the methodology of the State of Civil Society Report for 2017,’ pointed out Ulla Pape of the University of Bremen, an author of the report 2016 (Germany). ‘With this input, we will be able to make the report a thoughtful reflection on civil society development in Europe, relevant both for academic debate and for finding practical solutions to many problems a lot of civil society organisations are struggling with today.’
An added value of the meeting turned out to be the Public Discussion “Current Threats and Hopes for Civil Society Organisations in Europe: Different Countries – Similar Agendas?”, which took place on 21 April. Speakers of the discussion were Andrei Demidov of the University of Amsterdam (Netherlands); Ulla Pape; Ieva Petronytė of the Civil Society Institute and the Institute of International Relations and Political Science at the University of Vilnius (Lithuania); Simone Poledrini of the University of Perugia (Italy); Pamala Wiepking of the RSM Erasmus University (Netherlands).
Upon the end of the discussion, Elena Belokurova of the German-Russian Exchange (Russia), Editor of the State of Civil Society Report, summarised the results: ‘Although in many countries civil society organisations need to solve many of their specific problems locally, they face common challenges as well. These include financial problems caused by various backgrounds and political difficulties related to populism, the strengthening of right-wing radical forces and social conflicts. Many NGOs perceive such conditions as challenges that require revision of  their strategies and even, perhaps, their own identity, which gives hope to overcome them.’