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History of EED

Establishment of EED

The European Endowment for Democracy (EED) was established in 2013 by the European Union and EU member states as an independent mechanism for providing fast and flexible support to democratisation in the European Neighbourhood and beyond.


As early as 2006, the idea of an EU-sponsored foundation providing democracy-support to respond to unforeseen needs and in exceptional circumstances had been proposed, including in the 2006 European Parliament resolution on the European Neighbourhood Policy.

The Arab spring of 2010-2012 and rising tensions in Eastern European countries further highlighted the need for a ‘rapid reaction’ mechanism that could complement existing instruments under the EU’s European Neighbourhood Policy. This mechanism would have the flexibility and agility to respond in atypical and rapidly changing situations.

In January 2011, Polish Foreign Minister, Radosław Sikorski, tabled a proposal at the EU Foreign Affairs Council for the establishment of a new flexible gap-filling European initiative, the European Endowment for Democracy. 

This became the flagship initiative of the Polish Presidency of the Council of the EU during the second half of 2011. The then EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton, gave the initiative political backing, as did the EU Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy, Štefan Füle. This was later incorporated into a Joint Communication by the High Representative and the European Commission on A New Response to a Changing Neighbourhood.

Formal establishment of EED

This work culminated in the Council Conclusions of December 2011, and the Declaration on The Establishment of a European Endowment for Democracy. In March 2012, the European Parliament also formally expressed its support through its recommendations to the Council on the modalities for the possible establishment of a European Endowment for Democracy

After the finalisation of the EED Statutes by the European Member States and EU institutions, the first EED Board of Governors meeting took place on 13 November 2012. The EED Secretariat became fully operational in July 2013.

EED's Geographical Mandate

Initially the EED mandate extended only to countries in the EU Neighbourhood.

In 2015, the EED Board of Governors adopted a decision to extend the mandate of EED’s activities to “neighbours of the neighbours”. These include: Bahrain, Chad, Iran, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Oman, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan and Yemen.

In 2018, EED further expanded its operations to the Western Balkans - Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia.

Marking the First 10 Years

In 2023, on the occasion of EED’s 10th anniversary, the EED Board of Governors endorsed a Strategic Orientation Document of the Board of Governors for the Future Development of the European Endowment for Democracy, that sets out EED’s strategic choices and priorities for the next period.