Skip to main content

European Democracy Support Annual Review 2023

From geopolitical shifts to grassroots protests, democracy support in 2023 was shaped by the intricate relationships between conflict, policy, and the evolving political landscape. The European Democracy Hub’s 2023 European Democracy Support Annual Review guides you through the international and domestic democracy support policies across Europe.

The year just passed saw European democracy support being less ambitious than in previous years’ reports. While support for democratic norms showed up in strategies and policy interventions, single countries and the EU as a whole showed less high-reaching scopes

A challenging global context

The geopolitical complexities brought by conflicts in Ukraine, Armenia-Azerbaijan, and Israel-Hamas, shed light on the challenges faced by EU democracy support policies. Despite some progress in supporting democratic reform in Ukraine, the conversation on how the war is threatening the defense of democratic values has significantly faded with time, while the resumed conflicts between Armenia and Azerbaijan, and Israel and Hamas, shed light on the significant weaknesses of the EU’s democratic support in the region. Further instabilities in the Sahel and other African regions made it more difficult for the EU to involve democracy in security missions in the area. 

Internal threats to democracy 

Internally, the European Commission’s dealings with Hungary and Poland highlight the nuanced effects of political pressure. The European Commission kept holding back funds for both countries over their rule of law shortcomings. However, the victory of a pro-democracy coalition in Poland’s elections shows that the pressure may be succeding in slowly changing the country’s direction. In terms of EU legislation, 2023 also saw a significant delay in the publication of the Defence of Democracy Package, a landmark initiative which encopasses recommendations on how to make electoral processes more inclusive, but also a controversial directive to harmonise transparency requirements for interest representation activities carried out on behalf of third countries. 

Each year, the European Democracy Hub observes and analyses how democracy support evolves in Europe and how the past year’s events and geopolitical changes affect national and international democracy support policies. The European Democracy Support Annual Review covers international and domestic policies at the European Union (EU) level as well as those of individual EU member states and non-EU European countries (specifically Norway, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom). 

The European Democracy Support Annual Review 2023 is the flagship publication of the European Democracy Hub, a collaborative research effort from the European Partnership for Democracy and Carnegie Europe. 

Cover image credits: Getty Images

Latest news