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The past decade has been challenging for democracies worldwide, with experts pointing to a trend of ‘democratic backsliding’ or ‘autocratisation’ characterised by continued attacks on democratic space. The COVID-19 pandemic has further complicated the picture. The contagiousness and deadliness of the virus forced authorities to implement drastic measures justified by overriding public health concerns. Yet, the crisis has also forced governments to tread a thin line between admissible health measures and the blatant abuse of emergency powers, to the detriment of democratic space.

Over a year into the pandemic, a number of studies have highlighted the detrimental effects of the pandemic on democratic space. Inequalities have deepened globally at an unprecedented speed. The criminalisation of protests and excessive and discriminatory measures to quell protests have strained civic movements and opposition parties globally. Activists and rights defenders have faced a major increase in violent repression, and many government measures had a discriminatory effect on the most marginalised communities. EPD’s own research comes to similar conclusions of excessive use of COVID measures for repressing democratic processes of accountability, transparency, participation and inclusion.

This workshop brings together CSOs and researchers on democratic space during the pandemic, in order to jointly identify the key trends and discuss the implications of research findings for EU and Member State external action, including programming of the NDICI and Team Europe Initiatives.


  • Friday 25 June 2021, 14:00 – 15:30 CEST
  • Register via Zoom here

Your active participation is welcome! There will be plenty of space for discussion and exchange among participants and speakers.


  • Thijs Berman, Executive Director of the Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy, former Member of the European Parliament and journalist
  • Chiara Adamo, Head of Unit, DG International Partnerships, European Commission
  • Ruth-Marie Henckes, European Partnership for Democracy
  • Aarti Narsee, Civic Space Research Officer, Civicus
  • Rebecca Gordon, Research Fellow Birmingham University, Westminster Foundation for Democracy

Moderated by EPD Executive Director Ken Godfrey.

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