Civil society sounds alarm over proposed EU Defence of Democracy package

Pia Engelbrecht-Bogdanov
1 December, 2023

In a press briefing on Monday 27 November, Transparency International EU (TI EU), Civil Society Europe and the European Partnership for Democracy warned of looming pitfalls surrounding the Commission’s proposed Defence of Democracy package. The proposed legislation has raised pertinent questions on its legal basis, fundamental rights implications, and global consequences.

In particular, the demand for civil society organisations to disclose foreign funding risks designating them as foreign agents, which could expose civil society to unwarranted and perilous stigmatisation. This would ultimately serve to stifle civil society voices, and in doing so undermine the Package’s fundamental goal of safeguarding democratic values. Indeed, autocratic regimes often utilise foreign agent legislation as a means to suppress civil society. Such an approach also appears to overlook the pressing issue of malign influence from within the Union itself.

Nick Aiossa, Acting Director at TI EU, said “The proposal will not meet the policy objective of capturing malign influence. If the Commission really wanted to protect democracy, they would introduce a comprehensive act that would include all interest representatives and close loopholes, truly addressing both foreign and internal malign elements.”

The full summary of our position and recommendations can be accessed here.

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Vitor Teixeira

Senior Policy Officer - Rule of Law and Civic Space