“The enabling framework for civil society in Germany continues to raise rule of law concerns regarding the freedom of assembly and the financing framework for civil society groups. Tax law and jurisprudence continue to severely restrict and sanction political and critical engagement as well as advocacy work of civil society organisations.”
(2022: Civil Liberties Union for Europe, Liberties Rule of Law Report 2022 – Germany, p. 4)
In response to a Call for Inputs from the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, Clément Nyaletsossi Voule for his report to be presented at the 50th session of the Human Rights Council the Alliance “Legal Certainty for political advocacy” sent a contribution to paint a comprehensive picture of the situation in Germany at the moment.
Since the Attac case in early 2019 the public benefit status of non-profit organisations in Germany has been repeatedly weakened. The current law is a threat to organisations engaging in non-profit political counselling and action – which poses a threat to all charities and human rights defenders. In 2019 we were faced with four more cases in which tax authorities revoked or refused to grant the public benefit status.
A special one is the case of the VVN-BdA (Vereinigung der Verfolgten des Naziregimes; the Association of Persecutees of the Nazi Regime/Federation of Antifascists), founded by Holocaust survivors and resistance fighters of the Nazi dictatorship in 1947.
The English Service of Deutsche Welle explains this case and the enacted legislative amendments by the German Federal Ministry of Finance.
The platform “Civic Space Watch” is informing about the Attac case and therefore pulished an interview with Stefan Diefenbach-Trommer, the spokesperson of our coalition “Rechtssicherheit für politische Willensbildung” (Translated: Legal certainty for political advocacy). It focusses on how the Attac case will affect the wider civic space in Germany.
This is a translation of the German text “Analyse des Attac-Urteils”, published at 14th march 2019.
The judgment in the Attac case by the [German] Federal Fiscal Court (BFH = Bundesfinanzhof) affects thousands of foundations (trusts) and societies. This judgment is not very helpful. It does not reflect the social developments of recent decades. At some points, the BFH’s arguments are not convincing. Some conclusions are not substantiated at all. The judges missed an opportunity to re-define the concept of political commitment and to correct former confusing statements by the BFH concerning political purposes. Instead, they fell back on judgments by the BFH and the Constitutional Court on the law of political parties from the 1960s and 1980s. Weiterlesen
This is a translation of the German text “Auswirkungen des Attac-Urteils auf zivilgesellschaftliches Engagement”, published on 1. march 2019.
The German Federal Fiscal Court’s (BFH) judgement in the Attac case will affect thousands of associations and foundations throughout Germany, and likewise influence the involvement of the many thousands of people who belong to them. Accordingly many organizations are in great turmoil. The judgement shrinks spaces for civil society. Many association boards are now discussing whether they should discontinue some of their efforts on behalf of Attac. Media commentary on the judgement has been extensive, in keeping with its great relevance. Some commentators consider the judgement warranted and welcome the imposition of restrictions on organizations like Attac that hamper business as usual. Many others by contrast are demanding that government take action in order to broaden the scope for political action. An intermediate position is to propose creation of special rules for entities that are not parties but nonetheless participate in political discourse. Weiterlesen
Civil society is charitable, pursues public benefit purposes, per se: a diverse political civil society gives our democracy life. Civil society encourages people to form opinions and stimulates debates that benefit the common good. It gives more people an opportunity to participate in social and political decision- making. It helps strengthen the rights, opinions and interests of those whose voices are too weak. Civil society constitutes a corrective to the selfish interests of lobbies and helps delay rash political decisions – public protest has often prevented mistaken decisions or improved their outcome. Democracy needs a civil society meddling in political issues. Weiterlesen