Supporting democracy around the world
This work also benefits EU citizens, whose place at home is strengthened by a fairer, more stable world.
The European Parliament's main areas of activity in this domain are the following:
- reinforcing parliamentary democracy in non-EU countries,
- supporting the parliaments of the Western Balkans and Turkey,
- monitoring and following up elections,
- developing initiatives involving mediation, facilitation and dialogue,
- focusing on human rights,
- developing activities connected to Parliament's Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought and its network.
This European Parliament's democracy support work is guided by the"Comprehensive Democracy Support Approach" (CDSA), which coordinates Parliament's democracy support activities so that they revolve in a coherent manner around the electoral cycles of non-EU countries.
All these activities are overseen by the Democracy Support and Election Coordination Group (DEG), which provides political guidance and supervision. The DEG is headed by the chairs of the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Committee on Development and includes MEPs from across the political spectrum.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the President of the European Parliament and its political leaders have modified Parliament's calendar of activities.The aim is to enable Parliament to exercise its core functions, while complying with the duty of care for its Members and staff and protecting public health.
As a result, most meetings and all external activities of the Parliament have been cancelled or postponed.
How is the European Parliament supporting democracies in non-EU countries during the COVID-19 crisis?
During the unprecedented and tragic health crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the European Parliament is working to help save lives and restart the economy.
By adopting budgetary and other measures, the Parliament ensures that the EU effectively addresses the emergency.
EU coordinated action
Members of the European Parliament adopted a resolution during the plenary session of 16-17 April 2020. "EU coordinated action to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences" emphasises the importance of foreign policy and democracy support within the EU's strategy to address COVID-19.
Parliament has urged that emergency measures adopted in non-EU countries in response to the COVID-19 crisis "do not violate human rights or international law, that they be limited to strictly necessary, proportionate measures, and that they be subject to regular scrutiny and timebound".
Remote democracy support
Though local activities supporting the rule of law, democracy and peace have been temporarily suspended during the COVID-19 crisis, the European Parliament is closely following developments beyond its borders. One focus has been on states of emergency that may affect democratic institutions.
The Jean-Monnet Dialogue for peace and democracy, a well-established instrument developed by the European Parliament in the area of parliamentary mediation and dialogue, is more important than ever.Members of the European Parliament are working remotely with non-EU political leaders to develop true inter-party dialogue and to build theconsensus necessary to transform political culture and strengthen parliamentary democracy.
Parliaments also need to adapt their capacities to new political and technological challenges arising from the Covid-19 pandemic. Through its remote capacity development activities, the European Parliament works to ensure that parliamentary democracies are fully operational in third countries even in times of crisis.
Fighting threats to democracy: MEPs to discuss dangers faced by parliamentarians around the world
MEPs set to put solidarity in action to empower parliamentarians facing serious dangers, including unfair criminal proceedings, intimidation and violence.
On 30 June, International Day of Parliamentarism, leading MEPs took stock of the global state of parliamentarians' rights in a live debate with Sarah Elago, an elected representative in the Philippines and victim of disinformation, as well as with representatives of the Inter-Parliamentary Union and Parliamentarians for Global Action.
Democracy Week 2020:
MEPs and stakeholders got together online on 14-17 September to discuss how democracy is dealing with COVID-19 and the challenges it presents to democratic systems.
The COVID-19 pandemic threatens more than the lives and the livelihoods of people throughout the world. It is also a political crisis that represents a global challenge to democracy and reminds us that the freedoms we cherish are at risk and that we must defend them.
International Democracy Week consisted of a series of events and workshops on global democracy and the COVID-19 pandemic organised by the European Parliament and several non-governmental organisations, in order to highlight the repercussions of the current crisis on democracy and fundamental freedoms.
Featured speakers included European Parliament President David Sassoli (video message), European Commission Vice-President Věra Jourová and Swedish State Secretary to the Minister for International Development Cooperation Per Olsson Fridh, as well as heads of international organisations, parliamentarians, journalists, democracy and foreign policy experts and practitioners.
Oleg Sentsov awarded 2018 Sakharov Prize
The Ukrainian filmmaker and writer Oleg Sentsov was awardedthe European Parliament's 2018 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought inStrasbourg on 12 December 2018.
An empty chair symbolised the laureate's absence. Sentsov, convicted by aRussian military court of plotting terrorist acts, has been imprisoned since2015.
A native of Crimea, the filmmaker had protested against the Russian occupationof the peninsula before his arrest.
Awarding the prize, European Parliament President Antonio Tajani called Sentsov"a symbol of the struggle for the release of political prisoners held inRussia and around the world".
Sentsov's cousin, Natalya Kaplan, and lawyer, Dmitri Dinze, accepted the awardon his behalf.
Conference on the future of election observation
10 - 11 October 2018, Brussels
Through a series of panel debates, more than 400 participants - including MEPs, former heads of state, national parliamentarians, representatives of international organisations, election observers, donors and civil society - addressed the major challenges confronting electoral observation and the integrity of democratic elections.