On 27 September 2017, it was the International Day of Democracy, and this did not go by unnoticed for EPD and its members. For the second year in a row, the European Parliament hosted a conference in celebration of the International Day of Democracy, teaming up with four democracy support organisations: European Endowment for Democracy (EED), European Network of Political Foundations (ENoP), European Partnership for Democracy (EPD), and Office of the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA) to the EU, as well as the European External Action Service and the European Commission. The event aimed to take stock of current trends and challenges, and analyse the needs and possibilities for reconnecting citizens and democratic institutions. More than 120 participants took part.
Director General of DG DEVCO of the European Commission, Stefano Manservisi, opened the conference and underlined that democracy was essential to ensure long term peace as well as sustainable development. Deputy Secretary General of the European External Action Service, Christian Leffler, identified the disconnection between citizens and politicians as one of the major challenges for democracy. EP first vice president Mairead McGuinness made a passionate plea to “reawaken democracy” by giving a voice to all people.
Other topics discussed during the event included:
- state of democracy today – trends and challenges
- how to bring the demos back into democracy
- democracy, media and the values of free speech
Partnering organisations and the European Commission also showcased some relevant work during the week of the conference. The exhibition included political cartoons, photos and videos.
The conference was complemented by a performance of the Arab Puppet Theatre, an artistic collective from the European Neighbourhood. They delivered the “Performance Desperately in Need of an Audience” at BOZAR cultural centre. It tells the story of exile and refugees. President Emeritus of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, delivered a positive vision in his Keynote Address on “EU and Democracy: a never ending task”. (Find full text of the speech here)
You can find all photos here.
The full report of the conference is available here.