How is the European Endowment for Democracy faring?

Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, deputy of the European Parliament’s ALDE Group, on the EU’s new tool for fostering democracy

16/05/2013 | 13:00 - 15:00 | DGAP Rauchstr. 17 Berlin 10787 Berlin | Invitation only

Expert Round Table

Category: European Union

European Union member states agreed to establish a European Democracy Fund in order to be able to respond to the political upheavals of the Arab Spring. Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, who chairs the fund’s executive committee, presented the new tool for encouraging democracy and spoke of the opportunities and obstacles faced while setting up the fund. Agnieszka Łada, guest researcher at the DGAP’s Alfred von Oppenheim Center, joined the discussion.

© DGAP

Count Lambsdorff stressed that the European Endowment for Democracy does not merely duplicate pre-existing tools for encouraging democracy. It is much more about contributing added value, providing rapid, non-bureaucratic help to pro-democracy organizations, civil society movements, and activists – above all in the regions neighboring Europe.

Agnieszka Łada pointed out that the close involvement of non-governmental organizations in both setting up the Endowment for Democracy and manning its administrative structures marked a positive development and makes it possible to address their needs directly. “The most significant challenge for the European Endowment for Democracy,” she said, “will consist of identifying the right pro-democracy partners on site who would benefit from support.”

Count Lambsdorff explained that the endowment is driven by demand, in contrast to most current tools for fostering democracy. Selecting which pro-democracy forces to support is undertaken against a background of intensive information exchange with the European External Action Service, national embassies, and non-governmental organizations. Unlike most existing instruments, however, a certain amount of risk must be taken into account when dispensing aid money, which may not always hit its mark, or may take some time to reach it.

The panelists were invited by the Alfred von Oppenheim Center for European Policy Studies as part of the “Brussels Briefing” series of events at the DGAP. The event was moderated by Almut Möller, head of the Oppenheim Center.

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