Trucks and busses carry demonstrators through a street
© Ezequiel Scagnetti

Linking to civil society and strengthening human rights

Supporting democracy in non-EU countries involves encouraging dialogue between legislatures and civil society organisations, and empowering key vectors of democracy.

Civil society organisations are important partners for the EU and the European Parliament in particular. These organisations provide input for new policies and help implement existing policies, contributing to a more inclusive democracy.

The European Parliament teams up with civil society organisations both within and beyond the EU.

Parliament also focuses its democracy support work on a number of groups:

  • Human rights defenders

    Respecting human rights is an essential element of democracy. As individuals or part of civil society organisations, human rights activists and defenders identify, document and denounce human rights violations, help mainstream human rights into legislation, and shore up existing rights. In this way, they also generally strengthen a culture of personal and collective rights and freedoms.

  • Women

    Women are powerful agents of democratic change. Evidence shows that women improve democratic governance and encourage governments to be more responsive to citizens' needs. Women can also increase cooperation across party and ethnic lines, and contribute to more sustainable peace after conflicts. Parliament empowers women through different activities that are part of its Simone Veil programme.

  • Media and Journalists

    Media play an active, essential role in a pluralistic democracy: they uphold freedom of speech and inform citizens. The European Parliament supports journalists and media outlets, including by encouraging investigative journalism and advocating for journalists' safety. Countering "fake news" and helping ordinary people identify fabricated stories is also becoming a significant part of supporting democracy.


International Democracy Day

Every year the European Parliament celebrates the International Day of Democracy.

Parliamentarians, civil society members, government representatives and experts gather to discuss key challenges for democracy and democracy support. Participants take stock of current trends and analyse the possibilities for reconnecting citizens and democratic institutions.

The event - which is open to the public - is organised in coordination with four organisations that also work on promoting democracy and democratic values in Europe and beyond:

  • the European Endowment for Democracy (EED),
  • the European Network of Political Foundations (ENoP),
  • the European Partnership for Democracy (EPD), and
  • the Office of the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA) to the EU.