Toward a New EU Democracy Strategy

Ken Godfrey, Richard Youngs
Content Type
Working Paper
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
Ten years ago, the European Union’s (EU’s) member governments agreed on important council conclusions designed to raise the profile of the union’s support for democracy across the world. In late 2019, EU member states are likely to agree on new democracy conclusions and then, in 2020, on an updated and more operational action plan. They recognize that the strategic context has changed dramatically in the last decade, and the union needs to take on board many lessons about what has worked and not worked in its policies since 2009. Many policymakers hope that the change in leadership of the EU institutions in late 2019 might rejuvenate the bloc’s commitment to international democratic norms, after a period in which the priority has shifted to security issues. This working paper assesses the evolution of EU democracy support policies in recent years and proposes a number of improvements that a new policy framework might offer. The union has focused on improving microlevel tactics, but it most urgently needs a rethink at the macrolevel of its democracy strategies. Ironically, in the last ten years EU approaches to democracy have slowly become more sophisticated and sensitive at the implementation level yet have lost traction because they have failed to keep up with larger political and strategic changes within and beyond Europe. The paper proposes ten action points built around the need for the EU to be more proactive and flexible in supporting democracy and to link democracy support to the union’s changing approach to geopolitical challenges.
Governance, Democracy, Geopolitics
Political Geography
Europe, European Union