Wednesday

19th Jan 2022

EU launches new fund to help oppressed

Pro-democracy movements in oppressive states like Belarus will soon have access to grants through a new Brussels-based fund.

Officially launched on Wednesday (9 January), the European Endowment for Democracy (EED) is a joint undertaking by the European Commission and a handful of member states and European deputies.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

“The endowment comes at a very timely moment, as 2013 will be a crucial year for democratic transitions, in particular in the EU’s neighbourhood,” said the EU’s foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.

The EED signed an initial €6.2 million contract with the commission in September last year. Switzerland and a handful of other member states committed an additional €8 million.

Another €10 million from the commission is expected over the next three years, reports Polish newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza.

The fund is designed to bypass the more heavy administrative procedures attached to EU grant-giving and is open to journalists, bloggers, non-registered NGOs, and political movements – even in exile.

EU enlargement commissioner Stefan Fuele said the EED will aid “the emerging players that face obstacles in accessing European Union funding.”

For her part, Nasta Palazhanka, one of the leader’s of the Belarus Youth Front, told EUobserver in Minsk in late 2011 that EU support would be critical to a movement whose leadership is under constant KGB surveillance or in jail.

“The more your popularity and your reputation grows, the more the repression increases,” she said.

The fund is the brainchild of Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski who initially proposed it in February 2011.

Movements in Algeria, Armenia, the Palestinian Authority, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Egypt, Georgia, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Moldova, Syria and Ukraine will have access to the endowment.

But with neighbouring Poland’s state secretary Jerzy Pomianowski at its helm, the EED may take on a distinctively eastern focus.

A career diplomat and statesman, Pomianowski was himself an active member of the democratic opposition movement in Poland during the 1980s.

He also directed a joint initiative of the Paris-based OECD and the United Nations to support public administrations in countries destabilised by armed conflict or natural disasters.

Opinion

Belarus as a permanent challenge for the EU

A new project for economic integration proposed by Russia's prime minister to create a Eusian Union based on the Customs Union of Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus is a major challenge for the European Union.

Interview

Does North Macedonia really exist?

Its language and history give North Macedonia its identity for president Stevo Pendarovski, but, for Bulgaria, neither of them are real, in a dispute holding up EU enlargement.

Spain to recognise Kosovo if it gets Serbia deal

Spain would be prepared to recognise Kosovo if it clinched a deal with Serbia, Madrid has said, in the first positive signal of its kind since EU-brokered talks resumed.

Kosovo to restart EU/US-led Serbia talks

Restarting talks on Serbia relations will be the new Kosovo prime minister's top priority, he said, but will the EU or the US lead the process?

News in Brief

  1. Maltese MEP Roberta Metsola elected EU Parliament president
  2. Swedish MEP wants fines for EU carbon villains
  3. One year on: EU urges Russia to free Navalny
  4. EU bids farewell to late parliament president Sassoli
  5. Sweden investigates drones over nuclear plants
  6. Argentina, Australia, and Canada face EU travel restrictions
  7. German minister takes EU message to Moscow
  8. Djokovic now also at risk of missing French Open

Opinion

Montenegro's membership can inspire the European Dream

Today (15 December) I come to Brussels with a simple purpose: to present the credentials of my country, Montenegro, to become the next member state of the European Union, writes prime minister Zdravko Krivokapic.

Interview

Does North Macedonia really exist?

Its language and history give North Macedonia its identity for president Stevo Pendarovski, but, for Bulgaria, neither of them are real, in a dispute holding up EU enlargement.

Latest News

  1. 'Hundreds' of Russian mercenaries in Mali, EU confirms
  2. Euro countries start haggling on fiscal rules
  3. New doubts raised on tracking ads ahead of key vote
  4. Time to stop China's economic hostage-taking of Lithuania
  5. James Kanter, Shada Islam are new editors at EUobserver
  6. The loopholes and low bar in Macron's push for a global tax
  7. No love for Russia in latest EU strategy
  8. New EU Parliament chief elected This WEEK

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us