Civil society is a prerequisite for strong, resilient states. Conversely, when civic space is reduced or threatened, there might be a set in motion a downward spiral, with a profound impact on human rights and society as a whole. In the EU, the protection of human rights defenders and civic space has long been approached as a foreign policy issue. The EU is a vocal advocate and ally for human rights around the world, providing assistance and protection to activists, academics and journalists. In recent years, civil society actors in the EU have increasingly been facing push back. Last month, a report of the UN Secretary-General on intimidation and reprisals listed three EU member States over reprisals against civil society actors for cooperating with the UN on human rights. There is a potential domino effect both within the EU and beyond its borders. The EU and its Member States should be coherent and grant as much importance to the protection of civic space within as well as outside EU borders, because when human rights and the rule of law are weakened or taken for granted. Read more here.