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Woman in Mali showing her finger after having voted
Voting in Mali © Ezequiel Scagnetti

Supporting democracy around the world

Actively supporting the European Union's international efforts to promote democracy and human rights is one of the European Parliament's core responsibilities, set out in in the EU's founding treaties.

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.

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

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.

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