Anne Wetzel, Jan Orbie
The EU’s Promotion of External Democracy: In Search of the Plot

Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS) Policy Brief
1-6 S.

While the EU has recently upgraded its external democracy promotion policies through a set of initiatives such as the “Partnership for Democracy and Shared Prosperity with the Southern Mediterranean”, the proposal for a “European Endowment of Democracy”, and the “Strategic Framework and Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy”, there is one challenge that it has not yet addressed: what exactly does it aim to support? This policy brief illustrates that both the conceptualisation of democracy and the means to achieve it remain vague, and explains why this is problematic. It points out the risks that stem from a lack of clear understanding about how human rights, governance, civil society and socio-economic development relate to democratisation. It concludes that the EU should reflect on the substance of its external democracy promotion policies and conceptualise the relationship between the different elements of democracy promotion cited above and democratisation. While ongoing reforms of international democracy promotion should continue, a wider debate on substance could help identify what the EU should support in the future. The EU should also establish a reflective external democracy promotion policy where the assessment of actions on democratic development becomes systematic and is institutionalised.