Making the change – on a global scale – from an economic system that is exploitative and growth-fixated to one that is regenerative is the challenge of our time. We need to fight the bad and nurture the good. The fact that large corporations are able to accumulate power and frequently abuse it is a clear indication of what is wrong and unsustainable in our economic system. We therefore want multinational corporations to commit to the common good. We also want to leverage cooperative and co-creative economic systems – specifically those that promote ecological and social well-being – to bring about systemic change. We also need to improve economic policy – and politics in general. And this means we need to refine and enhance our democracy – both in Germany, and throughout Europe.
This is why we are pleased to support organisations that, through concrete projects, are working towards these very goals. We support groups that are working on the most difficult political issues of our time; and groups that are applying the most effective pressure in all the right places.
Head Office, Berlin plus 14 regional associations
Mehr Demokratie is the world’s largest direct democracy NGO. Its motto can be broadly summed up in the phrase »if we give up on democracy, democracy will give up on us«. So Mehr Demokratie campaigns, among other things, for the introduction of referenda at every level (local, regional and national); reform of the voting and parliamentary systems; the democratisation of the EU; and greater citizen participation.
Mehr Demokratie has enjoyed some impressive successes, strikes the right note in the public conversation, and skilfully manoeuvres its way around the political arena. We are currently supporting the project called »Bürgergutachten zur Stärkung der Demokratie« (»Citizens Survey to Strengthen Democracy«). We have already had a positive experience of working with Mehr Demokratie, having been involved in two of their previous projects, namely: »Selbstorganisierte europäische Bürgerinitiative gegen TTIP« (a European citizens campaign against TTIP) in 2015; and the Dutch referendum on CETA in 2016-2017.
For the first time ever Germany, like many other countries, has a majority that is unhappy with democracy itself – not just with politics or politicians. The entire world is seeing a decline in democratisation. We will use the results of a nation-wide citizens survey – the first of its kind in Germany – to devise concrete proposals on how to enhance and improve the quality of democracy and ensure that these proposals are fed into the political system and put into practice.
European Climate Foundation
The citizens’ movement, Finanzwende e.V., is intended to be a counterbalance to Germany’s powerful financial lobby organisations. It is an independent interest group for ordinary citizens. Through campaigns, financial education programmes and consumer protection it will work towards a common goal, namely a change in the financial system, so that we can return to a situation in which the markets serve the people – and not the other way around.
There is almost no dialogue today about fiscal policy. Citizens are no longer involved in initiating new legislation or reforms. The financial lobby dominates what happens here. In order to build a politically effective counter-voice to current fiscal policy – and one that represents the interests of civil society – we need solid financial means, well-qualified people and a great deal of patience.
Together we want to ensure that the Finanzwende initiative makes its voice heard and that it becomes part of the process of devising policy. Another aim of our involvement with Finanzwende is to use start-up finance to increase public awareness of the initiative and to attract a large number of financial supporters who, long term, would ensure that the initiative is not dependent on a few large donors.News
Charles-Léopold Mayer Foundation
Funders for Fair Trade
The Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) is a research and campaign group working to expose and challenge the privileged access and influence enjoyed by corporations and their lobby groups in EU policy making. CEO is committed to reining in the power of corporations in order to put an end to social injustice and the destruction of the environment.
We have been supporting CEO since 2015 and we have done so because it carries out careful research that it then skilfully deploys for political campaigns. CEO has enjoyed some considerable successes. CEO plays a central role on the pan-European NGOs network scene. CEO’s work is frequently used by other organisations, journalists and politicians.
Our aim with the project »Challenging corporate capture of EU policy-making« is to expose excessive lobbying influence on EU trade and climate policy-making and what this means for people and the environment. In addition to lobby transparency rules, revolving door curbs and other ethics rules, we will advocate more comprehensive measures to prevent corporate capture.
Open Society Foundations
The European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights uses the law to fight for a world free from torture, oppression and exploitation and for an end to the culture of impunity. The ECCHR’s »Business and Human Rights« programme advocates that European companies that commit human rights violations abroad should face both national and European courts.
The ECCHR is a well-respected organisation with a highly-developed network of contacts around the world. It has established its reputation not least through its legal investigative work on international crimes. Its work on corporate liability in the global economy very much complements our work to date on preventing the further rise of corporate power through the EU’s trade and investment deals.
We are supporting the ECHR in its legal investigations into western companies that violate human rights outside Europe. The work is designed to provide lasting and effective legal recourse for the victims of these violations. The ECHR deploys various hard-law and soft-law mechanisms and tackles specific cases in order to eliminate practices in certain sectors of the economy - such as the textiles industry, water management and mining - that violate human rights.
Berlin, Paris, Amsterdam
Foodwatch reinforces consumers’ rights to sufficient, safe and healthy food. The organisation publicises problems in the food industry and mobilises consumers. It proposes effective national and European laws to bring about political change, with the aim of ensuring that the food industry really does serve the interests of the consumer.
Like foodwatch, we too reject the TTIP and CETA free-trade agreements – which is why, since 2015, we have been supporting foodwatch’s campaign against these agreements. This strategically clever campaign explains the situation to citizens while also increasing an appreciation, among the media and politicians, of the problems associated with these deals. In order to continue this approach in the political sphere and to provide alternatives, we are now supporting foodwatch as it seeks to increase its profile across Europe.
We want to curb those company practices and political activities that weaken or conflict with consumer rights and civil rights – and to do this, we want to make an example of companies that act in this way and make sure that there are repercussions for them if they continue to do so. This should also serve to strengthen democracy and encourage people to get involved in shaping what might be termed »A Citizens’ Europe«.News
Cologne and Berlin
LobbyControl raises awareness of the power structures and lobbying strategies used in Germany and the EU to influence policy-makers and public opinion. The organisation advocates transparency, democratic control and clear boundaries in terms of political lobbying and the influencing of public opinion. LobbyControl’s methods include research, background analysis and campaign work.
LobbyControl carries out its work with strategic clarity and uses highly creative tools. It is an important German counterpart to the Corporate Europe Observatory, a group with which LobbyControl is working, for example, on the issue of ‘regulatory cooperation’ in EU trade deals. LobbyControl’s public relations work is also highly impressive, as are its constantly growing donations and member contributions.
Through the “Exposing the Corporate Trade Agenda” project we want to further investigate and expose the influence that corporate lobbyists have on EU trade deals (TiSA, JEFTA, EU-Mercosur etc.). We particularly want to stop the setting up of ‘shadow parliaments’ through ‘regulatory cooperation’; and once again we want to create a public outcry about this issue.
Rockefeller Brothers Fund
Funder for Fair Trade
The Transnational Institute (Stichting, ANBI) is an international research and advocacy institute committed to building a just, democratic and sustainable world. TNI serves as a unique nexus between social movements, engaged scholars and policy makers. TNI is the legal host of the Seattle to Brussels Network, which brings together NGOs from different fields in their advocacy for trade justice.
We support Transnational Institute as the capable leader of a unique transnational consortium of NGOs with a track record of working on trade and investment agreements (Powershift, Germany; Corporate Europe Observatory, Belgium; Attac, Austria; Ecologistas en Acción, Spain; Veblen Institute and Aitec, France, War on Want, UK). They complement each other geographically, in terms of their methods, target audiences and specific expertise.
By supporting the project „No more ISDS!“, we want to prevent unilateral investor protection (Investor-State-Dispute-Settlement, ISDS) from expanding and from being further institutionalised. Because despite the partial victories against this “parallel justice system”, which the anti-TTIP/CETA campaign of recent years won, ISDS in its various manifestations (ICS, MIC BITs) remains an aberration.News
Fondation Charles Léopold Mayer pour le Progrès de l'Homme
Funders for Fair Trade
The Institut Veblen advocates social and ecological change. It brings together academics, political decision-makers and players from civil society to define the adjustments needed in our existing economic, monetary and financial systems to ensure a balance between market, state and the common good. The Institute strengthens interdisciplinary networking and political mobilisation.
In June 2015, the Institut Veblen became our French partner in our campaign to involve small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the debate on TTIP and CETA. As the focus is now on the EU’s trade policy as a whole, we are supporting the Institut Veblen to build a network to promote trade policy reform and the coordinated lobbying, by French civil society, of political decision-makers.
Our aim is to bring about the restructuring of EU trade policy. In future, the focus must be on democratic accountability, social justice and environmental sustainability. Negotiations currently underway on specific trade agreements must be suspended. We want to devise trade alternatives to these agreements and develop a political momentum while also reaching a broader audience.News
»Our current problems can no longer be solved using the very methods that caused them in the first place.« This is the guiding principle of the Institut für Partizipatives Gestalten (IPG). This is why IPG’s method and process designers and architects work to find the most innovative approaches and ideas in participation-based planning and problem-solving. They then refine the ideas and add them to the range of services they offer.
We believe it is high time that the participatory design and creative processes that have long since been used in areas like town planning and landscape architecture, sustainability projects, the development of schools and education and organisation-building should now be tried out on larger scale projects. Working with IPG we want to design a piece of collaborative democracy for the EU.
There is a wide gulf between the reality of how the EU actually does trade negotiations and the ideal version, which would be a process that is transparent, democratic and participatory. Via the »Co-Creating Trade Policy« project we want to explore how, in future, a process of devising solutions through cooperation could be developed and implemented. Through this project we are advocating good and innovative agreements which, above all, have the support of the majority.News
Bund für Umwelt und Naturschutz Deutschland (BUND)
German NGO Forum on Environment and Development
The Netzwerk Gerechter Welthandel emerged out of the large protests against the trade and investment agreements known as TTIP and CETA. The Network opposes these and other similar neoliberal deals. Instead it supports a trade and investment policy based on high ecological and social standards and a policy that promotes sustainable development in all countries.
The Network’s aim is to raise public awareness again of the risks associated with neoliberal trade policies and to ensure that the cosmetic changes made in recent years do indeed lead to a major change of direction in trade policy. The Network supports and promotes democratic and socially fair trade policies in the EU and around the world.
The grant will be used to organise a conference on future actions and strategy. The conference will take place in Frankfurt am Main in June 2018 and will offer local and regional alliances and groups the chance to network and exchange ideas. Together, participants will consider plans for future actions and campaigns and discuss the next steps to be taken against the ratification of CETA and other agreements.