Judy Asks: Is Europe Doing Enough to Protect its Democracy?
Editor's note: GMF's Rosa Balfour, along with a selection of experts, respond to Judy Dempsey on "Is Europe Doing Enough to Protect its Democracy?"
No, and the question should not be just about protecting democracy, but about making it healthier and meaningful to Europeans. Disinformation and foreign interference are part of the problem, but it would be a mistake to blame Europe’s ailments on exogenous factors. An EU agency will not fix things—at best, it may help equip the EU to better deal with these specific threats.
A deeper look into how democracy is failing in Europe shows that there is much diversity across the continent and that the problems are not confined to Central Europe—though Hungary is successfully pioneering the rise of authoritarianism within the EU. Surveillance policies, antiterrorism, and repressive migration policies are curbing civil society. Corruption and bad governance are eroding trust in institutions. And the traditional institutions of democracy are not performing their roles of representation—the Brexit tragedy being a prime example of how the world’s oldest democracy is failing.
A shake-up of European politics and society is needed, but the health of democracy is not something that can be left to the EU. It needs far deeper and broader thinking and action to improve civic engagement and political reform. The goal: to make democracy meaningful and fit for the twenty-first century.