Support to elections takes the form of electoral assistance projects and EU election observation missions. These are independent but complementary activities implemented through different financial instruments (geographic funds for the electoral assistance and centrally managed EIDHR funds for the observation missions).
Election assistance may be defined as the technical or material support given to the electoral process. It may imply professional help to establish a legal framework for the elections. It may also take the form of a general input to the national electoral body, such as providing voting material and equipment, or helping in the registration of political parties and the registration of voters. It may also imply support to NGOs and civil society in areas such as voter and civic education or training of local observers, as well as support to the media monitoring and training of journalists.
The Commission bases its electoral assistance on a strategic approach that favours long-term involvement and takes into consideration the full electoral cycle. The focus is placed on the support to the institutional capacity of Electoral Management Bodies (EMB) and the long-term needs of civil society, rather than supporting ad hoc projects aimed at specific electoral events.
EU electoral assistance has, in the last five years, accounted for close to €400 million, delivering capacity-building and technical and material support to electoral processes in more than 40 countries.
The Commission’s Methodological Guide on Electoral Assistance is part of the ongoing effort to place electoral assistance more firmly within the framework of democratic development and to become a pillar of the support to governance. The Guide develops the strategic operational framework in the field of electoral assistance, in order to rationalise and make Commission interventions more homogeneous, effective and in harmony with overall EU objectives.
This Guide was prepared to offer all Commission staff and others whose work requires specific knowledge of particular EU electoral assistance issues a tool to assist them with the policy and strategic framework in this area, issues and entry points for activities, as well as resources for their formulation and implementation.
Election observation is an important part of the EU's wider policy of support for democracy, the rule of law and human rights. EU Election Observation Missions (EOMs) immediate goals are to strengthen confidence in the elections, deter fraud, and provide an informed and factual assessment of an election process. Their longer-term objectives aim at improving the overall election framework and the context in which elections are held, strengthening the independence and accountability of state institutions and enhancing the resilience of partner countries through supporting good governance. Together with other international observation groups, an EU EOM seeks to make a positive contribution without interfering in the conduct of an election, nor validating its result. The EU also deploys Election Expert Missions and Election Follow-up Missions.
The recommendations issued by EU Election missions can be instrumental in improving future elections and, more broadly, can be a crucial element in the deepening of democracy.
Find more information on the EU Election missions at: www.eueom.eu