10 recommendations for a European democratic response


We are at a critical juncture for the future of the European Union and democracy globally. The Russian war of aggression shows that authoritarian rule is a global security problem for states, businesses and people everywhere. Democracy support needs to be a European strategic priority.

Russia’s attack on Ukraine, decided by a small circle of people and animated with a revisionist and aggressive ideology, denies Ukraine’s right to stand as an independent and sovereign state. While the EU’s Versailles declaration proposes a number of necessary measures to counter Russia’s aggression against Ukraine – including reducing energy dependency and enhancing defence capacities – it remains vague on how the EU and its Member States will support the reconstruction of a democratic Ukraine and strengthen shared values of human rights and democracy. This raises concerns about how the EU and the Member States will operationalise their commitments in strategic terms to advance democracy, human rights and the rule of law globally and within the European Union.

As the Versailles declaration recognises, “Russia’s war of aggression constitutes a tectonic shift in European history”. Such a shift requires concerted actions not only to stop the aggression, protect refugees and provide humanitarian relief but also to build a democratic world that will protect peace in the future. To this end, we propose actionable recommendations for a democracy-first strategy for the EU and the Member States in line with the values of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and the EU treaties.

We call on EU institutions and European governments to respond to the crisis with a democracy-focused approach in the short term while developing a far more strategic approach to supporting democracy globally in the long term. To this end, we have two sets of actionable recommendations:

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