|Key findings identified based on the country reports|
Area 1 (1.1): Freedom of association continues to be legally guaranteed in all countries of the region. Organizations are allowed to build networks, coalitions and other types of unions. However, a few challenges remain. Although improvements have been observed in some countries still the majority have identified the need for a more reliable system of statistics on organizations. Shortcomings in protection against unwarranted interference of the state in CSO affairs have not been fully addressed (although there was some progress with new legislation, eg. Kosovo). With regard to financial reporting, the legislative framework in most countries in the region (with the exception of Kosovo) has been modified to comply with the recommendations given in the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism (MONEYVAL) and the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). Some of these amendments specify that CSOs should ensure more detailed financial reporting to state agencies. Despite being aimed at increasing transparency, these reporting requirements could place additional burden and pressure on CSOs, shrinking the civic space in the countries.
Area 1 (1.2): Even though basic freedoms continue to be legally guaranteed, countries need to strengthen accountability of all relevant institutions in charge of protection and enforcement of these fundamental rights. In practice, the majority of countries have seen a growing number of assemblies, which may be considered a positive indicator of the enabling environment for public assemblies. On the other hand, it is worrisome that in almost all of the countries there have also been cases of restrictive police interventions. The factual situation across the region shows that freedom of expression is facing certain limitations as journalists face a continuous interference in their work.
Area 2 (2.1.; 2.2): The legislative and tax framework for CSOs continues to pose challenges for donors, although some improvements have been noted in Albania and North Macedonia. A shared characteristic between the countries in the region is that foreign donors are the dominant source of funding and that the area lacks diversification. Individual and corporate giving in the region is still insufficiently practiced. Moreover, practice shows that state funding is not a viable source for CSOs as it is limited in the ability to support the work of CSOs.
Area 2 (2.3): In all of the countries, the legislation and policies pertaining to employment do not take into account the specific nature of CSO operation. Therefore, employment in CSOs is still quite low in practice. On the other hand, volunteering continues to be a viable practice for CSOs in the majority of countries, which is mainly due to stimulating regulation, although in some countries special laws are still to be enacted, such as in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo.
Area 3 (3.1.; 3.2): CSO-state relationships are regulated by legal and/or policy documents in all of the countries. However, their implementation is still slow and rather incomplete due to persistent issues, such as the lack of political commitment, allocated resources and implementation skills. Dialogue with public authorities has been limited, particularly with regard to CSO involvement in the decision-making processes.
Area 4 (3.3): Legal frameworks for service provision continue to be unsupportive of CSOs as service providers, resulting in only a few public service contracts.