Guiding EU to a stronger EU Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy

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Through advisory services and events, International IDEA has supported the European Union to develop and implement development strategies and programmes underpinned by knowledge and analyses on democracy generated by the Institute.

In 2020, International IDEA Member States that are also European Union (EU) Member States jointly advocated for democracy within EU policies. This led to a major achievement on a key EU policy initiative, the EU Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy 2020–2024.

International IDEA’s Regional Europe Programme has contributed to the drafting process and decision-making of the EU Action Plan since 2019. It has done so through joint statements with democracy partners, a position paper to the online consultation, presentations to EU Member States, and inputs to International IDEA and EU Member States that negotiated on the text in the EU Council.

The Action Plan sets out ambitions and priorities for democracy in the EU’s external relations over the next five years. It operationalizes the further strengthening of the EU’s global leadership on democracy and provides guidance for EU delegations in their actions. International IDEA contributions that made it into the Action Plan include:

  1. enhanced mainstreaming of democracy throughout the Action Plan, acknowledging that human rights and democracy are interdependent and mutually reinforcing;
  2. inclusion of the Action Plan to support the development of comparative knowledge on human rights and democracy for more evidence-based programming and action;
  3. enhanced progress monitoring of the Action Plan through the provision of a framework to track its implementation; and
  4. more attention to supporting political parties and parliaments, the role of digital technologies in democracy and the inclusion of artificial intelligence in democratic development actions, and the role of EU delegations in pursuing the Action Plan’s objectives.

After the conclusion of negotiations in the EU Council Working Party on Human Rights, the Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy 2020–2024 was adopted by ministers in the EU Foreign Affairs Council on 19 November 2020. The text includes stronger ambitions and actions on democracy than ever before, which reflects the true joint effort between EU institutions, democracy partners and Member States. International IDEA’s Secretary-General participated as a speaker in the online launch event of the European External Action Service to celebrate the adoption of the Action Plan, which was attended by nearly 1,000 participants around the world. The invitation illustrated the EU’s appreciation of the partnership with International IDEA and our work in support of democracy.