Joint priorities for the Defence of Democracy Package

30/03/2023

We are proud to share that FEPS has contributed to a paper summarising the Joint priorities of organisations based in Europe and active in democracy, human rights and the rule of law for the European Commission’s Defence of Democracy Package. 

The Defense for Democracy Package is an initiative announced by President Von Der Leyen in the 2022 State of the Union address aimed at defending democracy from covert foreign influence. A proposal of the package will be published by the European Commission in the summer 2023 and will include the following:

  • Measures on transparency.
  • Specific measures on electoral matters.
  • Measures to foster an enabling civic space and promote inclusive and effective engagement by public authorities with civil society organisations and citizens to bolster democratic resilience from within.

Without clear assessments and definitions, there is a risk any proposal can be weaponised against pro-democratic actors by those seeking to undermine democracy. The risk is not theoretical – foreign interference has already been used in many countries worldwide to stifle media, journalists, civil society and political opposition.

Against this background, the joint paper emphasises the need to carefully consider legislative and non-legislative initiatives, ensuring that they uphold international human rights law, the Charter of Fundamental Values, article 2 of the Treaty on the European Union, and European policy-making processes. The paper provides recommendations in various areas, including civil society, civic space, active citizenship; European elections; disinformation; the online public sphere; independent media; and foreign interference. We believe effective action in these areas is crucial to protecting democracy ahead of the 2024 European Parliament elections and beyond.

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