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European Democracy Support Annual Review 2021

Heading into a new year of challenges and triumphs for European democracy, a period of reflection and review is always essential. In this new research, the European Democracy Hub offers a review of the European democracy-support policies and programmes in 2021. 

This report fills a gap as the first comprehensive review of efforts to support democratic norms internationally. It is the first of a yearly series of overviews of European democracy support, which will synthesise and analyse the developments taking place within the EU and its Member States towards strengthening democracy globally. 

A number of interesting and relevant findings have emerged from this research. Within Europe, it was a year of action as the EU and its Member States enacted a number of new commitments and policy initiatives in support of democracy. Ignited with the momentum of the European Democracy Action Plan, the European Commission made quick progress pushing through a number initiatives related to electoral integrity, media freedom, online advertising and disinformation. Many Member States similarly bolstered their commitment to democracy externally through funding and new strategies. 

However, this research has found that the positive trajectory has not been uniform as many missed opportunities for action passed both the EU institutions and the Member States. The report emphasises the need for the EU and Member States to step up their ambition on human rights and democracy in a more consistent manner globally. As Executive Director of EPD, Ken Godfrey, notes, “2021 was an important year for laying the foundations for further strong democracy support initiatives; now is the time for the EU and Member States to build on that foundation.” 

The European Democracy Support Annual Review 2021 is published by the European Democracy Hub, a joint initiative of Carnegie Europe and EPD. The Hub acts as a focal point for the work of democracy, and brings together experts engaged with EU democracy support and democratic challenges. The Annual Review kicks off an exciting year for the Hub which will see it produce new work, such as regular democracy spotlights and extensive research projects on global innovations in democracy practice and repressive environments. This publication was developed thanks to co-financing from the European Union.