On the 6th of June 2014, EPD organised a Community of Practice event in Brussels, gathering more than 30 representatives from the European Institutions (DEVCO and EEAS), European organisations and think tanks involved in Democracy Assistance, as well as CSOs from EU partner countries. The discussion focused on the implementation of the European Democracy assistance strategy, and in particular the upcoming EU Democracy Profiles and Action Plans, covering the second generation of pilot countries, which were selected by the COHOM on March 2014.
The objective of the meeting was to exchange ideas on the best way to support the EU delegations in charge of the implementation of this process. Additionally, participants also took the opportunity to discuss the renewal of the current EU Strategic Framework on Democracy and Human Rights which reaches its end in 2014, and on which EU Member States and institutions are starting to debate.
Following the INSPIRED event and the presentation of the results of this EIDHR-funded Programme (EC), the Community of Practice session highlighted the fact that the methodology employed by INSPIRED can be used to support and contribute to the set up of the Democracy Profiles and Action Plans currently in progress. Indeed the collective assessment, as well as the activities, which have been organized in the 5 countries covered by the project have allowed EPD to gather relevant analyses and recommendations, which could be included in the work of the EU delegations. Resulting from a participatory and inclusive dialogue process, they underline necessary orientations for the further democratic transformation of those countries, with the advantage of being focused, consensual and in line with the real needs and capacities of the stakeholders involved. Participants underlined the importance of using similar mechanisms to ensure adequate participation of local actors in successful democracy assistance policies and programmes.
All participants appreciated EPD’s role as organiser and facilitator of this exchange between the EU institutions and organisations dealing with democracy assistance. It was clearly suggested to further enhance the role of the democracy assistance sector through the strengthening of the Community of Practice.
“The EU has been and is putting a big emphasis on assisting countries in Democratic transition. The new comprehensive approach, the new thematic and geographic funding instruments as well as recent declarations, prove that the EU is advancing further on the effective inter-relation between Human Rights, Democracy, Development and Peace” declared, Nicolas Rougy, Executive Director of EPD. “It is therefore essential for our sector to work closer with other sectors and with the institutions to progress towards efficient, coherent and pragmatic need-based programmes in order to improve the enabling environment in third countries”.
In his conclusions for the day, Hans Bruning, Executive Director of the Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy (NIMD) and current Chair of EPD, invited all organisations working on democracy assistance in Europe to join forces in order to continue to encourage the EU to advance on the set-up of a meaningful EU strategy on democracy assistance.