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Election observation, a mission for democracy

Elections are one of the defining bases of a functioning democracy. The European Union believes that actions supporting transparent, inclusive and participatory elections can make a major contribution to democratization, peace, security and conflict prevention around the world, particularly in fragile, post-conflict or developing regions.

An EU observer at work at a polling station in Senegal in 2012.

EU support for democratic elections takes the form of electoral assistance projects and EU election observation missions (EOMs). Under the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights, FPI, working closely with the European External Action Service's Democracy Support and Elections Division, finances and prepares EU missions that observe and assess various aspects of electoral processes in partner countries in the framework of a lonterm methodology based on international standards, and produce recommendations to improve the democratic processes surrounding elections.

With an annual budget of approximately EUR 38 million for election observation, FPI deploys around 10 full-fledged observation missions, comprising a Core Team of analysts and Long-Term and Short-Term Observers, around the world per year.

EOMs are conducted by the European Union in third countries upon invitation of the country holding the election. They are headed by a Member of the European Parliament (MEP), who acts as the mission’s Chief Observer. The list of priority countries for election observation is drafted by the EEAS in consultation with Member States and the European Parliament while the ultimate decision to deploy an EOM to a specific country rests on the EU High Representative/Vice-President (HRVP).

The regions benefiting from EU EOMs are Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean.

When a decision to launch an EOM is confirmed, FPI ensures all operational and security needs of the mission through outside contractors, and recruits the Deputy Chief Observer, the Core Team of analysts as well as the Long-Term and Short-Term observers to be deployed as part of that mission.

FPI showcases

‘Elections in Senegal’

The presence of EU observers during the presidential elections in Senegal in February and March 2012 helped guarantee a credible electoral process. Without these EU observers, the process could have taken a very different turn. Read more FPI in action stories.

Read more