Speech by Commissioner Urpilainen on the occasion of the launch of the “European Democracy Hub” - 02/02/2021

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Dear Friends,

Thank you to Carnegie Europe and the European Partnership for Democracy. It is my honour to address you today.

In ‘The Narrow Corridor to Liberty’, authors Acemoglu and Robinson argue that both state and society must be strong for liberty to flourish.

There are two extremes: the fear and repression of despotic states on the one end, and the violence and lawlessness that emerge in their absence on the other end.

But in between lies a narrow corridor to liberty, in which “state and society balance each other out”.

We must invest in this Narrow Corridor.

We must invest in functioning states and resilient societies.

The impact of COVID-19 on democracy has shown us why this is so important.

All over the world, non-democratic regimes have used the opportunity to violate human rights and democracy, centralise power and silence the opposition.

We have witnessed the censuring of media, making parliaments weaker and curbing political opponents.

Women and young people, in particular, are paying the highest price.

This cannot be.

EU will continue to ensure that our global recovery is fair, inclusive, sustainable and respects fundamental values.

With our new Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy and a new financial instrument, we will work with partners around the world.

We want to help deliver real democracy –quickly and flexibly, prioritising impact over form.

We want to deliver a real choice, a real voice, to those who need it more than ever.

The European Commission is also preparing a Communication on a renewed multilateralism that I will present, together with the HRVP, to the College in the coming weeks.

We want multilateralism to deliver rules and standards.

For this we must build an alliance of democracies with like-minded countries.

But with the support of all partners, including you.

So, I very much welcome your efforts to come together to create a permanent hub for expertise on democracy support.

The starting point for our work on democracy is having evidence-based information from trusted sources.

And with its twin focus on research and network building, the European Democracy Hub is exactly that.

With your informed opinions we understand better the state of democracy so we can address the challenges and take forward the opportunities.

Friends,

We can never take democracy for granted. Instead, let’s promote it together!