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Global leaders sign open letter urging newly elected EU leaders to defend democracy

More than 250 political, civil leaders, Nobel laureates and pro-democracy organisations sign open letter ahead of the 6-9 June European Parliament elections - calling on newly elected EU leaders to defend democracy with ten policy priorities at home and abroad.

The next European Union leadership must reaffirm the bloc’s commitment to democratic values in an increasingly authoritarian world by embracing ten key priorities that place democracy at the top of the policy agenda at home and abroad.  

That includes widening powers to uphold the rule of law within its borders, to ensuring new digital technologies safeguard human rights, and placing democracy at the heart of the EU’s security, migration, energy, and trade agendas.

That is the key message in A Call to Defend Democracy: 10 Priorities for the EU”, an Open Letter initiated by the Stockholm-based International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA) and supported by pro-democracy institutions, Nobel laureates and political and civic leaders, including former heads of state and government and EU leaders.

The signatories include: 
   # Nobel Peace Prize Laureates Oscar Arias Sanchez, Muhammad Yunus and sitting President of Timor-Leste José Ramos Horta.
   # Former President of the European Union, Herman Van Rompuy; sitting President of the European Economic and Social Committee, Oliver Röpke; former EU Special Representative on Human Rights, Eamon Gilmore.
    # Former Presidents and Prime Ministers such as Gordon Brown, George Papandreou, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, Viktor Yushchenko, Michelle Bachelet, Ricardo Lagos, Stefan Lofven, Kim Campbell, and Cheick Modibo Diarra. 

The letter comes as European voters representing nearly 450 million European citizens prepare to vote amid growing socio-economic inequalities, corruption, polarisation, and disinformation that have eroded satisfaction with democratic institutions.  

The letter is aimed at mobilising policymakers to ensure keeping democracy central to all policy making and decisions, recognizing that democracy is the most effective system for dealing with the biggest societal challenges while protecting the rights of all citizens, particularly minorities and vulnerable groups.

“These converging challenges have created a real risk that in this global election year, EU member states as well as some of its key partners may see the ascent of anti-democratic political actors,” the Call to Defend Democracy states. “These pressures undermine not only the EU’s founding democratic values, but also the credibility of its efforts to strengthen democracy around the world.”   

The letter’s ten proposals cover two principal areas:    

1. The strengthening of democracy and rule of law within the EU to combat challenges such as extremism, election interference, the spread of manipulative information and threats to journalists.  

2. Externally, the signatories ask the EU to uphold its founding values in the face of security, migration, energy and trade pressures, and to mainstream democracy in EU external and enlargement agendas, protecting electoral integrity and securing adequate resources.

“The EU is a global champion of democracy. But the future authorities of the European Parliament, the Council, and the European Commission must ensure that its commitment to defend and support democracy does not waver in the face of a multitude of global crises, says Kevin Casas-Zamora, Secretary-General of International IDEA.   “These ten priorities will go a long way to ensuring this ambition.” 

 The letter was initiated and supported by the Stockholm-based International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA), European Endowment for Democracy, European Partnership for Democracy, Open Government Partnership, and the European Network of Political Foundations.

The full letter and list of signatories -- shows that defending democracy is a widely shared concern both within the EU and in other regions – can be accessed here. 

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