on the Ordinary General Assembly of INGO-Service
on 21 June (2.30 – 3.30 pm)
Room 2
Palais de l’Europe, Strasbourg

Dear Chairs, representatives and friends,

At the plenary session in January 2010, I already drew your attention to ominous prospects for the budget and finances of our Conference.

“You can always find an excuse if you really want to get rid of something”. Everything that was being said about our Conference was negative. There was not a word about our positive achievements or our substantial input. And we were being suffocated financially.

We therefore all rallied round to make constructive proposals in line with the reform, while taking care to preserve our unique special feature as organised civil society bodies with participatory status. The proposals led to our own reform. We were not happy about having to do away with two sessions but we cannot afford more than two in financial terms.

While we have won some battles, the struggle is not over yet. As our many efforts mean that it is no longer possible to abolish the Conference at one stroke, the new strategy against the Conference is to deprive us of our substance.

As far as our financial resources are concerned, in 2010 we received 128 subscriptions totalling €17 880, or an average of €139 per NGO.

To date, in 2011, we have received 102 subscriptions totalling €13 800, or an average of €135.50. With 200 subscriptions, the total would be €27 100.

I mention these figures because at our Administrative Council meeting on 20 June we discussed how INGO-Service could contribute to the funding of the Great European Civil Debate on 14 and 15 November this year.

Our INGO-Service Administrative Council meeting on 20 June agreed that the final amount allocated to the Great Debate would depend on the amount available and also on the provisional budget we received for the event. I would ask you to agree in principle to this proposal.

As you will understand, the event will be important for boosting the profile and standing of the Conference and our two annual sessions. It must showcase the Conference and it is vital for all the NGOs to be there.

Following the reduction in the Council of Europe’s contribution to INGO-Service from €10 800 to €3 000 for 2011, the vital increase in our resources therefore essentially depends on an increase in subscriptions.

We realise that some NGOs have very limited resources. Other NGOs have greater resources, while still others are very well-off. I would therefore make the following appeal, which I will repeat in the reminder letter sent to all NGOs and which will be posted on the website.

Could NGOs which have not yet paid their subscriptions in 2011 do so before the summer holidays so as to give us an idea of the amount available for the event in November?

Could NGOs which can pay more than €120 do so?

Could NGOs which cannot pay €120 send a subscription, however small?

And lastly, I hope it might be possible for one or more NGOs to make a donation or ask to sponsor a specific aspect of the Great European Civil Debate.

Two key aspects have to be taken into account:

The first is that the larger the number of subscribing NGOs, the stronger will be the message, showing that the INGOs resolutely support their Conference.

The second is that the higher the level of the subscriptions, the greater the financial contribution we will be able to make to the Great European Civil Debate. We owe it to ourselves.

I understand full well that the majority do not want the input of private funding – however, I do not share that view. We have made efforts to find other options, including institutional partners. Believe me, it is not easy and is not just a matter of the economic crisis. We need to raise our profile. I hope the Great European Civil Debate will do that and make our role clearer. As I said earlier, it will be a real showcase for our activities.

Contributions are entirely voluntary. It is this solidarity that has enabled us to conduct activities and be present in areas not covered by the Council of Europe.

Now more than ever the Conference of INGOs needs you. I renew my appeal – once again, I urge you to demonstrate this solidarity and show our detractors that they are wrong and that we will continue our work and our commitments whatever happens.

Before concluding, for the benefit of those of you who have not entirely understood INGO-Service’s exact role, I should like to read out Article 2.2.10 of the Conference’s Rules of Procedure:

“2.2.10 It (the Standing Committee ) co-ordinates work on administrative and financial questions affecting the Conference of INGOs and its Committees and Transversal Groups, in consultation with the “INGO-Service”, which is the Conference’s internal financial management structure.”

As the Conference of INGOs is unable to receive payment of the INGOs’ voluntary subscriptions, it set up INGO-Service. The association is only a vehicle for the Conference.

Our thanks go out to all NGOs which have already paid their subscriptions in 2011 and all those which will do so before the end of the year. Participatory status gives us rights but we also have duties, including the duty to participate. The survival of the Conference depends on it.

Thank you.

Headquarters: Maison des Associations – 1 place des Orphelins – F-67000 STRASBOURG
Contact: Michel Muller – Tel : + 4179 217 42 53 – e-mail :