About EED

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Who we are

The European Endowment for Democracy (EED) is an independent, grant-making organisation, established in 2013 by the European Union (EU) and EU member states as an autonomous International Trust Fund to foster democracy in the European Neighbourhood (Eastern Partnership – EaP – and Middle East and North Africa – MENA), the Western Balkans, and beyond.

EED supports civil society organisations, pro-democracy movements, civic and political activists, and independent media platforms and journalists working towards a pluralistic, democratic political system. These can also include newly created or non-registered organisations, informal platforms, youth groups and individuals. In particular, EED supports those who cannot be supported by other donors and existing EU instruments. Support is contingent on adherence to democratic values, respect for human rights and observance of principles of non-violence.

Our mission

EED provides flexible support to democracy activists, complementing other EU and EU member state democracy support programmes. EED is demand-driven and responds to the needs of local democracy actors, who may not be able to obtain funding otherwise.

Our vision

  • Flexible
    We provide tailor-made, flexible, and timely grants to democracy activists
  • Transformational
    We invest in transformational ideas and the people behind them
  • Unconventional
    We believe in taking an unconventional approach to supporting democracy

Our story

Democracy and human rights are core values of the European Union (EU) and vital elements for ensuring long-term stability both inside and outside its borders. Democracy support has always been a pivotal element of EU's external policies, with support for democratisation processes in non-EU states traditionally channelled through instruments like the European Instrument for Democracy & Human Rights (EIDHR), the Instrument for Stability, and the European Neighbourhood Instrument (ENI).

The European Endowment for Democracy (EED) was established in 2013 by the EU and EU member states as an independent, complementary mechanism for providing fast and flexible technical and financial support to democratisation and human rights promotion in the European Neighbourhood.

  • Early beginnings

    EED took shape in the political context in the aftermath of the Arab revolutions where the historical changes in North Africa, and rising tensions in parallel in Eastern Europe, highlighted the need for a ‘rapid reaction’ mechanism that would complement the instruments that existed under the European Neighbourhood Policy.

    Allocating assistance by the complex procedures generally applicable to EU money has often proved incompatible with the flexibility and agility required in atypical situations where the reality on the ground does not match the predefined funding models.

    The concept of creating a less bureaucratic, but EU-sponsored foundation through which at least part of the funds devoted to democracy and human rights could be channelled was however by no means a new one. Several calls for the formation of a fund that could swiftly respond to unforeseen needs and in exceptional circumstances, had been put forward as early as 2006 (including in the 2006 European Parliament resolution on the European Neighbourhood Policy).

  • Impetus for new democracy support mechanism

    However, it was the dramatic events of the Arab revolutions that provided the new impetus. In extreme situations such as the Arab Revolutions or Euromaidan in Ukraine, pro-democracy actors, individuals or groups, emerge spontaneously. They are not officially registered, have no coherent organisational structure, and no previous experience in accessing donor funding. In countries with repressive regimes, the security or freedom of potential grantees, or simply the difficulty of operating as a pro-democracy assistance provider severely limit the support that the EU can offer.

    These changes in the EU Neighbourhood redefined the needs of local actors of democratic change and acutely highlighted the limitations of the existing instruments to react in fluid environments and deal with evolving challenges.

  • From concept to reality

    In January 2011, Polish Foreign Minister, Radosław Sikorski, tabled a proposal at the EU Foreign Affairs Council for the establishment of a new European initiative, the European Endowment for Democracy, with a view to gaining support to launch the Endowment as part of the revision of the EU Neighbourhood Policy. The idea was to establish an institution that would complement EU democracy support instruments, while filling the gaps by offering more flexible and less bureaucratic assistance.

    This became the flagship initiative of the Polish Presidency of the Council of the EU during the second half of 2011. The initiative received political backing from the then EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton, as well as then EU Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy, Štefan Füle, and was later incorporated into a joint communication by the High Representative and the European Commission on A response to a changing Neighbourhood. 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 Board of Governors meeting took place on 13 November 2012, with EED Secretariat operations getting underway in July 2013. The Endowment is based on a partnership between EU institutions, the Commission and the Parliament, and member states.

    Initially the EED mandate extended only to countries in the EU neighbourhood. However, in 2015, EED Board of Governors adopted a decision to extend the remit of EED’s activities to “neighbours of the neighbours”. These include: Bahrain, Chad, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Turkey, & United Arab Emirates, as well as Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan & Uzbekistan.

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

Our people

The work of EED is overseen by its Board of Governors and Executive Committee, composed of representatives from the EU institutions and EU member states, and civil society experts on democracy support. EED’s day-to-day operations are carried out by the Brussels-based Secretariat.

The Board of Governors is chaired by Member of the European Parliament, Elmar Brok MEP, and consists of 43 members: representatives of the 28 EU member states, Norway, the European External Action Service, a representative designated by the European Commission, nine Members of the European Parliament, and three members elected to represent European civil society.

The Board meets every six months and is responsible for the mandate, mission, and overall guidance of EED’s operations and development. It receives regular reports from the Executive Committee and the Executive Director.

  • mark

    Christian LEFFLERInterim Chair
    European External Action Service

  • Petras AUŠTREVIČIUSMember of European Parliament

  • Sandra BREKACivil Society Expert

  • Andrzej GRZYBMember of European Parliament

  • Cristian Dan PREDAMember of European Parliament

  • Pavol DEMEŠCivil Society Expert

  • Pier Antonio PANZERIMember of European Parliament

  • Lisbeth PILEGAARDChair

  • Knut FLECKENSTEINMember of European Parliament

  • Mark DEMESMAEKERMember of European Parliament

  • Tamás MESZERICSMember of European Parliament

  • Austria 
  • Belgium 
  • Bulgaria 
  • Croatia  
  • Cyprus  
  • Czech Republic  
  • Denmark  
  • Estonia  
  • Finland  
  • France  
  • Germany  
  • Greece  
  • Hungary  
  • Ireland  
  • Italy  
  • Latvia  
  • Lithuania  
  • Luxembourg  
  • Malta  
  • Norway  
  • Poland  
  • Romania  
  • Slovakia  
  • Slovenia  
  • Spain  
  • Sweden  
  • The Netherlands  
  • United Kingdom  
  • European Union  

The Executive Committee (ExCom) consists of seven members who represent a variety of expertise, including those with strong experience in civil society and foundation work, as well as EU member state representatives that meet on average every two months to take funding decisions. Lisbeth Pilegaard is Chair.

  • Lisbeth PILEGAARDChair

    Biography

    Lisbeth PILEGAARD

    Acting Chairperson & Civil Society Expert Biography

    Lisbeth Pilegaard is the Executive Director for the Danish NGO OUTSIDE, which combines active social street work with training, research and advocacy to address and find solutions to homelessness and social marginalisation.

    During 2015, Lisbeth Pilegaard was seconded by the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs as a Humanitarian Affairs Expert Adviser to support the UN High Level Panel for Humanitarian Financing. The Secretary-General of the United Nations has created a High-Level Panel on Humanitarian Financing to address the global humanitarian crises, co-chaired by the Vice-President of the European Commission, Kristalina Georgieva and HRH Nazrin Shah, Sultan of Perak, Malaysia. Pilegaard also attended the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul in May 2016.

    Prior to consulting, she headed the Department for Middle East & North Africa at KVINFO – a leading Danish institution on Gender, Equality and Diversity. Here she lead the development of strategic partnerships between Denmark and the MENA region, working with over 90 partners within the public, private and civil society sector and the academic world to help increase women’s economic, social and political participation in the region. From 2005-2011, Pilegaard headed the technical programme Support for NRC - Norwegian Refugee Council’s more than 20 country operations and established and ran NRC in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran as Regional Representative from 2002 to 2005.

    Pilegaard has served in various NGO/UN/EU committees and working groups on development and humanitarian aid coordination, coherence and transparency. She was a civil society member of the Danish Delegation in the 2013 UN Commission of the Status of Women (CSW) and sat in the council of the NGO Action Aid – Denmark from 2013-2015 and has been a board member of Transparency International – DK Chapter. Pilegaard is appointed Adviser to UN Compact Cities Programme in Australia.

    Pilegaard studied Rhetoric with a focus on international peace negotiations at the University of Copenhagen, and is a regular speaker at academic and political institutions, such as the Global Refugee Studies at Aalborg University, Denmark.

  • Sandra BREKACivil Society Expert

    Biography

    Sandra BREKA

    Civil Society Expert Biography

    Sandra Breka was appointed to the Board of Management of the Robert Bosch Stiftung in September 2017. Her portfolio includes the foundation’s departments of international relations, the program and liaison work in Berlin as well as the Robert Bosch Academy, a multilateral and interdisciplinary think tank.

    Since joining the Robert Bosch Stiftung in 2001, she has been responsible for a wide range of international programs of the foundation, the establishment of the Robert Bosch Academy, the liaison with public and private partners in Berlin as well as the foundation’s Berlin Representative Office, most recently as Senior Vice President since April 2013.

    An expert in international relations as well as foreign and security policy, Sandra Breka previously served as Program Director at the Aspen Institute Berlin after an assignment with the American Council on Germany in New York. After studies in Germany, France and the United States, she obtained her M.A. at Columbia University in New York. She was a Yale World Fellow in 2008.

    Sandra Breka is a Member of the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) and serves on the Board of the Mercator Institute for China Studies (MERICS) as well as the Board of Directors and the Executive Committee of the European Endowment for Democracy (EED) among others.

  • Pavol DEMEŠCivil Society Expert

    Biography

    Pavol DEMEŠ

    Civil Society Expert Biography

    Pavol Demeš is an independent expert on foreign policy and civil society based in Bratislava. After the democratic changes in 1989 he served as the Executive Director of the Slovak Academic Information Agency – Service Centre for the Third Sector, a leading NGO in the country at the time. He served as Minister of International Relations (1991-1992) and Foreign Policy Advisor to the President of the Slovak Republic (1993-1997). After 10 years as Director for Central and Eastern European of the German Marshall Fund of the United States (2000-2010), Demeš is currently the organisation’s non-resident senior fellow, as well as external advisor to the Slovak Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs.

    Prior to entering the field of public affairs after the Velvet Revolution, Demeš was a bio-medical researcher at Comenius University in Bratislava. He is a graduate of Charles University in Prague, and was a public policy research fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington D.C. in 1999.

    Demeš has written numerous publications on democracy and civil society, and has received the EU-US Democracy and Civil Society and USAID’s Democracy and Governance Awards.

  • José María MURIELSpain

    Biography

    José María MURIEL

    Spain Biography

    José María Muriel has served in the Spanish Diplomatic Service since 1990. After posts at the Permanent Representation of Spain to the European Union and the Spanish Embassies in the United States and Canada, he is currently serving as the Technical Secretary General at the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation.

    Muriel has also occupied the positions of the Ambassador-at-Large for Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Spain as well as Consul General of Spain in Hannover, Germany. While working for EU institutions, he held posts of “Referendaire” at the Court of Justice of the European Union and Head of the Justice, Security and Human Rights Team at the EU Delegation to the United States. He was also advisor at the Cabinet of the President of the Government of Spain on bilateral relations in Europe and European affairs.

    In addition to his diplomatic career, Muriel teaches European affairs, human rights and other subjects at the Spanish Diplomatic School and other institutions in Madrid. Muriel also holds a Law Degree from University of Córdoba, and a Master in High European Legal Studies from the College of Europe. He has published numerous articles and books predominantly focusing on European affairs.

  • Maria LIGORRomania

    Biography

    Maria LIGOR

    Romania Biography

    Before her current position as Ambassador-at-Large, Special Representative for International Cooperation, Promotion of Democracy and Human Rights, Maria Ligor served as the Minister for Diaspora in the Technocratic Government of Romania in 2016.

    Between 2006 and 2011, she was the Ambassador to the Kingdom of Spain, as well as Permanent Representative to the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). She briefly served as an ad interim Secretary General of the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and from 2003 to 2006, as Director General for European Affairs (EU and bilateral relations).

    A diplomat since 1996, she has worked at the Mission of Romania to the EU (1998-2002), at the Embassy in Luxembourg (1997), and in Bucharest, at the Directorates for Political Planning, for the European Union, and for Western Europe. She also gained internship experience at the European Parliament and the Council of Europe.

    Maria Ligor has a Master’s Degree from the College of Europe in Bruges, and a Diploma of Advanced Studies in Political Sciences from the Universite Libre de Bruxelles. Her training includes studies at the European Institute of the University of Geneva, and programmes such as “Managing and Shaping Change in the Information Society”, from Harvard University’s JFK School of Government, and the Kokkalis Project in Athens. In Romania, she specialised in International Relations at the National School of Political and Administrative Studies, after graduating from the Polytechnic University of Bucharest in 1990.

  • Petras AUŠTREVIČIUSMember of European Parliament

    Biography

    Petras AUŠTREVIČIUS

    Member of European Parliament Biography

    Petras Auštrevičius is a Lithuanian politician, diplomat, civil society activist and a member of the European Parliament since 2014 (re-elected in 2019).

    In 2014-2019, he served on the Committee on Foreign Affairs (AFET), acted as a coordinator for the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) in the Subcommittee on Human Rights (DROI), and had been elected as Chair of the Delegation for relations with Afghanistan. In addition to these positions, he was a substitute member for the Committee on Regional Development (REGI), the Delegation to the EU-Moldova Parliamentary Cooperation Committee, and the Delegation to the Euronest Parliamentary Assembly.

    Previously, Mr Auštrevičius was a member of the Seimas (Lithuanian Parliament) for 10 years. From 2001 to 2002, he was a Chief Negotiator for Lithuania’s membership to the European Union. Mr Auštrevičius is a co-founder and first chairman of the Liberals Movement of the Republic of Lithuania, as well as co-founder of the Lithuanian Free Market Institute and the Institute of Liberal Thought. Mr Auštrevičius was also a President of the Federalist movement in Lithuania.

  • Jerzy POMIANOWSKIExecutive Director

    Biography

    Jerzy POMIANOWSKI

    Executive Director Biography

    Jerzy Pomianowski has worked in international affairs for almost 30 years as Deputy Foreign Minister of Poland, Director of OECD-UNDP’s Partnership for Democratic Governance and Poland’s Ambassador to Japan.

    In 2013, he led the establishment of the European Endowment for Democracy (EED) and has since served as its Executive Director.

    Pomianowski began his career as a civil servant in 1990, just after the fall of communism, first in the Ministry of Education, and then in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He oversaw the launch of Poland Aid (2006-2008) and served as Director General of the Polish Foreign Service (2005-2006).

    Before 1989, Pomianowski was an active member of the democratic opposition in Poland. He was Chief-Editor of the Independent Publishing House at the Warsaw University, his Alma Mater.

    In his free time, he serves as president of the Polish Aikido Federation.

The EED team is led by Executive Director, Jerzy Pomianowski, and is comprised of multinational dedicated professionals with wealth of experience from international organisations, NGOs and fieldwork in the countries of EU neighbourhood and beyond.

EED Funding Partners

Twenty-three European countries who are members of the Board of Governors have contributed to EED’s programme budget to date. The EED operations budget is covered by a European Commission grant.

eedcanada wordmark is supporting grassroots democracy in Ukraine. EED is managing the Canadian C$ 5 million contribute to provide grants for Ukrainian civil society development.

  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Bulgaria
  • Cyprus
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • Germany
  • Hungary
  • Ireland
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • The Netherlands
  • United Kingdom
  • European Union

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