On 5 February 2008 European democracy NGOs have established a foundation to give democracy aid a boost.
Democracy organizations from The Netherlands, the Czech Republic, Spain, Norway, Portugal and Finland have formally established the European Foundation for Democracy through Partnership (EFDP) to strengthen the impact of their own activities and to put democracy assistance higher on the EU agenda.
Compared to emergency aid and development cooperation, international democracy assistance is a rather young field of work. Cross-national cooperation as envisaged in the EFDP is new and will strengthen the work of the member groups.
Internationally, democracy is on the defence. Therefore a much greater effort on the part European leaders to support democratisation outside Europe is required. However, EU’s foreign policy is currently dominated by issues of security, trade and economic development.
Influence EU’s foreign policy
Although some European governments are making huge investments in democracy assistance world-wide, it is not a top priority within the EU’s foreign policy. In Central Europe though, the fresh memory of authoritarian states and the recent transitions to democracy sparks a remarkable enthusiasm for this work.
The Brussels based EFDP will seek to put democracy higher on the EU’s agenda. Mr Šimon Pánek, Director of one of the associated organizations of EFPD, the Czech NGO People in Need, says: 'Historically the European Union was based on shared ideals of democracy and human rights. Nowadays these core values are more and more overshadowed by an increased focus amongst the EU member states on financial and technical issues. The EFDP will try to raise the voice of democracy again.’
Gateway to Europe
Finally, the EFDP will serve as a portal to Europe for those engaged in democratization work outside Europe. Many of these democracy activists are too small or too loosely organized to qualify for EU funding. In short, the EFDP wants to become a European knowledge hub in the complex field of democracy building.
On 15 April the EFDP will be officially launched in Brussels in the presence of EU Commission president Mr. José Barroso and EFDP president of the Council of Patrons, Mr. Václav Havel.
Previous to the official launch the EFDP will host the workshop “From European principles to performance: How can Europeans strengthen their support to democratization processes world-wide?” at the 5th Assembly of the World Movement for Democracy in Kiev, Ukraine (6 – 9 April).