The third sector is a central pillar of European democracy. The voices of third sector representatives (NGOs, foundations, and educational institutions) are considered by government officials when justifying policy positions and determining how resources and political capital are spent. Europe’s third sector faces a severe crisis of credibility, due to the corruption of NGOs by oligarchic and kleptocratic wealth as well as by networks of illicit or malign finance or influence.
When the driver behind NGO advocacy is funding from dark money or sanctioned activities, the public should be made aware. The Institute for European Integrity's NGO Watchlist is intended as a tool for necessary due diligence to prevent the further infiltration of the third sector and hold accountable those organizations and officials who continue to collaborate or affiliate with corrupt NGOs.
The NGO Watchlist identifies suspicious NGOs and investigates their funders and links to government influence. The criteria for being watchlisted is having deep involvement with or funding from an individual or entity that has been sanctioned or criminally prosecuted (Russia-invoked sanctions are excluded). Additionally, a separate category of watchlisted NGOs includes those with strong links to individuals with criminal allegations levelled by a European, EU, US, or UK government authority.