Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum

Can the European Endowment for Democracy conduce to democratization?

The suggestion to create the European Endowment for Democracy (EED) of the European Union is the EU’s obvious reaction to the challenges of the “Arabian Spring”, the crisis of democratic transformations in the majority of the Eastern Partnership countries, and, which is important, the comprehension of the inefficiency (and insufficiency) of the actual democracy supporting tools in the structure of the EU foreign policy. It is necessary to welcome the EU’s steps in the direction of the creation of more effective and flexible financial tools, but, at the same time, the introduction of such mechanisms demands a discussion of some sensitive questions and generalized problems of the influence of the European policy on democratic changes in the Neighborhood countries.

In the joint document of the European Commission and Catherine Ashton, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, "A New Response to a Changing Neighborhood" (May, 25th, 2011),a special emphasis is placed on the necessity to support the progress in the direction of democracy, in particular - the development of “deep democracy” and establishment of "partnership with societies". It is in this context that the creation of the two new financial tools - Civil Society Facility and European Endowment for Democracy - was announced. These tools are introduced as an addition to the already existing ENPI programs, in particular - EIDHR and NSA-LA, and aimed at compensating the drawbacks of the latter and spurring the expansion of the democracy supporting zones.

Therefore, the problematic of the creation and the future of the EED functioning should be considered from at least three angles:
1. The EU democratization policy (and that of other basic international actors), its mechanisms and influence on real changes in the Neighborhood countries;
2. The place and meaning of the EED in the scheme of European and international external development assistance;
3. The EED architecture, principles, and procedures of its functioning.

The first levels provide enough material from the experience of the implementation of political and financial policies of democratization support for the analysis of successes and errors, without which the efficiency of the new tool will be rather doubtful.

Further, we focus our attention on «the lessons learned» from the post-communistic transformation processes in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, the policy of the EU expansion to the East, and the Eastern direction of the Neighborhood Policy. The Eastern vector of the EU policy has its specificity and allows us, due to the historical similarity of the countries of the post-communistic space, to transfer more easily the best practices of transformations from country to country. However, it should not mask the essential distinctions in the ways of transit and the unique specificity of Central Europe, the western sub-region of the USSR (Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova) and Caucasus, and, accordingly, the European policy concerning these geographical regions and sub-regions.

1.     Political and financial tools: coincidence and contradictions
2.     Antilogous experience of democratic transformations
3.     EED Architecture

Author: Andrei Yahorau, Centre for European Transformation
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