Supporting Civil Society in the EU: Lessons from Democracy Assistance in Eastern Europe
- Pavel Havlíček, Rethink.CEE Fellow, German Marshall Fund of the United States, and Research Fellow, Association for International Affairs, Czech Republic
- Richard Youngs, Senior Fellow, Democracy, Conflict, and Governance Program, Carnegie Europe
- Joerg Forbrig, Director for Central and Eastern Europe, German Marshall Fund of the United States
For years now, and particularly among its Central and Eastern European member states, the EU has seen steady democratic backsliding, a dangerous erosion of the rule of law, and a systematic weakening of the bloc’s fundamental values. In response, the European Commission is now preparing legislative and non-legislative measures, including the EU Action Plan for Democracy, the Rights and Values programme or the Digital Services Act. No less importantly, ongoing negotiations on the next Multiannual Financial Framework, the EU budget until 2027, evolve around the question of whether or not the EU sufficiently prioritizes investments into strengthening its value base.
In so doing, the EU can take important clues from its own external assistance in Eastern Europe and beyond, as a new policy paper by the German Marshall Fund of the United States argues. For decades, the EU has developed considerable capacity, funding and mechanisms to support democracy, the rule of law, human rights, and civil society in its neighbourhood and the world over. Its toolbox includes aid for human rights defenders, support for civil society under threat, funding for independent media, assistance with reforms and EU integration, conditionality vis-à-vis national governments, and direct communication with populations and interaction with pro-forms and pro-EU circles across countries. Thus, the EU disposes of considerable experiences that it can and should bring to bear at home.
The German Marshall Fund of the United States is pleased to invite you to the presentation and discussion of a new policy paper that examines lessons from EU external democracy assistance and provides recommendations for their application internally.
This event is part of the Rethink.CEE Fellowship, which was established by the German Marshall Fund of the United States in 2018. As Central and Eastern Europe faces mounting challenges to its democracy, security, and prosperity, the Rethink.CEE Fellowship supports next-generation thinkers and activists to conduct original policy research, to offer fresh thinking and perspectives, and to shape effective responses by the transatlantic community.