MEPs: EED is a positive result of the new EU approach to Democracy
The draft report “The EU's new approach to human rights and democracy– evaluating the activities of EED since its establishment” was on the EP Subcommittee on Human Rights (DROI) agenda on 26 March.
MEPs from the European People’s Party (EEP), Socialists and Democrats (S&D), Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE), Greens/European Free Alliance (Greens/EFA) and from the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) endorsed the overall positive conclusions of the report. Chairing the committee, Christian Dan Preda (EPP-Romania) described how EED has been “very effective across the board, supporting elections, media fairness, rule of law and helping to fight corruption”.
The report’s rapporteur Andrei Grzyb (EPP-Poland) introduced the findings, stressing the added value of EED’s support, which includes emergency, seed and bridge funding. The EED’s response to EuroMaidan, among other examples, was highlighted as its fast, flexible and effective support to civil society.
Petras Austrevicius (ALDE-Lithuania) spoke of EED as a
“shining example of a timely initiative with successful implementation, … which has found its place in the already existing network of [democracy support] players.”
Elmar Brok (EPP-Germany), Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, admitted that EED has “worked out better than we thought”. David Martin (S&D-United Kingdom) said EED was “full of potential for what it can build in the future.”
Mark DeMesmaeker (ECR-Belgium) stated: “As a journalist, I think that [EED] is an excellent and very very important means to support media”, especially where it is “difficult to access free media”.
Reinhard Bütikofer (Greens-Germany) called for more reserve in the praise of EED: “We should reserve the superlatives for the future.”
Several MEPS also called for EED to engage more in various directions of work:
- Increase cooperation with the European Neighbourhood Instrument (ENI), EEAS, the EP and other organisations, e.g. the EP’s Sakharov Committee, Young Political Leaders Programme, the Eastern Partnership’s Civil Society Forum and the Anna Lindh Foundation. (Austrevicius, Bütikofer Grzyb & Panzeri)
- Facilitate grassroots networks among EED grantees (Martin)
- Dovetail with EU human rights instruments “to maximize what [the EU] achieves” (Brok)
- Increase EED visibility on the ground, led by Heads of EU Delegations through presence at relevant local meetings (Lambsdorff)
- Formalize the funding of EED beyond the current “[reliance] on the good will of Member States or one-off contributions.” (Brok and Lambsdorff, among others)
EP Vice President Alexander Lambsdorff (ALDE-Germany, and Chair of EED Executive Committee) felt “moved by such a strong cross-party consensus on the EED project”. He also underlined the continuously growing need for such a project, due to the worsening political context: “The breathing space for NGOs and civil society is shrinking in many countries in the EU Neighbourhood”.
MEPs have until 14 April to table amendments to the report, which will be considered in the DROI Subcommittee on 6 May. The Committee on Foreign Affairswill consider and vote on the report on 26 May, with the plenary vote in July.