About EED

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Who we are

The European Endowment for Democracy (EED) is an independent, grant-making organisation, established in 2013 by the European Union (EU) and EU member states as an autonomous International Trust Fund to foster democracy in the European Neighbourhood (Eastern Partnership – EaP – and Middle East and North Africa – MENA), the Western Balkans, Turkey and beyond.

EED supports civil society organisations, pro-democracy movements, civic and political activists, and independent media platforms and journalists working towards a pluralistic, democratic political system. These can also include newly created or non-registered organisations, informal platforms, youth groups and individuals. In particular, EED supports those who cannot be supported by other donors and existing EU instruments. Support is contingent on adherence to democratic values, respect for human rights and observance of principles of non-violence.

Our mission

EED provides flexible support to democracy activists, complementing other EU and EU member state democracy support programmes. EED is demand-driven and responds to the needs of local democracy actors, who may not be able to obtain funding otherwise.

Our vision

  • Flexible
    We provide tailor-made, flexible, and timely grants to democracy activists
  • Transformational
    We invest in transformational ideas and the people behind them
  • Unconventional
    We believe in taking an unconventional approach to supporting democracy

Our story

Democracy and human rights are core values of the European Union (EU) and vital elements for ensuring long-term stability both inside and outside its borders. Democracy support has always been a pivotal element of EU's external policies, with support for democratisation processes in non-EU states traditionally channelled through instruments like the European Instrument for Democracy & Human Rights (EIDHR), the Instrument for Stability, and the European Neighbourhood Instrument (ENI).

The European Endowment for Democracy (EED) was established in 2013 by the EU and EU member states as an independent, complementary mechanism for providing fast and flexible technical and financial support to democratisation and human rights promotion in the European Neighbourhood.

  • Early beginnings

    EED took shape in the political context in the aftermath of the Arab revolutions where the historical changes in North Africa, and rising tensions in parallel in Eastern Europe, highlighted the need for a ‘rapid reaction’ mechanism that would complement the instruments that existed under the European Neighbourhood Policy.

    Allocating assistance by the complex procedures generally applicable to EU money has often proved incompatible with the flexibility and agility required in atypical situations where the reality on the ground does not match the predefined funding models.

    The concept of creating a less bureaucratic, but EU-sponsored foundation through which at least part of the funds devoted to democracy and human rights could be channelled was however by no means a new one. Several calls for the formation of a fund that could swiftly respond to unforeseen needs and in exceptional circumstances, had been put forward as early as 2006 (including in the 2006 European Parliament resolution on the European Neighbourhood Policy).

  • Impetus for new democracy support mechanism

    However, it was the dramatic events of the Arab revolutions that provided the new impetus. In extreme situations such as the Arab Revolutions or Euromaidan in Ukraine, pro-democracy actors, individuals or groups, emerge spontaneously. They are not officially registered, have no coherent organisational structure, and no previous experience in accessing donor funding. In countries with repressive regimes, the security or freedom of potential grantees, or simply the difficulty of operating as a pro-democracy assistance provider severely limit the support that the EU can offer.

    These changes in the EU Neighbourhood redefined the needs of local actors of democratic change and acutely highlighted the limitations of the existing instruments to react in fluid environments and deal with evolving challenges.

  • From concept to reality

    In January 2011, Polish Foreign Minister, Radosław Sikorski, tabled a proposal at the EU Foreign Affairs Council for the establishment of a new European initiative, the European Endowment for Democracy, with a view to gaining support to launch the Endowment as part of the revision of the EU Neighbourhood Policy. The idea was to establish an institution that would complement EU democracy support instruments, while filling the gaps by offering more flexible and less bureaucratic assistance.

    This became the flagship initiative of the Polish Presidency of the Council of the EU during the second half of 2011. The initiative received political backing from the then EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton, as well as then EU Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy, Štefan Füle, and was later incorporated into a joint communication by the High Representative and the European Commission on A response to a changing Neighbourhood. This work culminated in the Council Conclusions of December 2011, and the Declaration on The Establishment of a European Endowment for Democracy. In March 2012, the European Parliament also formally expressed its support through its recommendations to the Council on the modalities for the possible establishment of a European Endowment for Democracy.

    After the finalisation of the EED Statutes by the European Member States and EU Institutions, the first Board of Governors meeting took place on 13 November 2012, with EED Secretariat operations getting underway in July 2013. The Endowment is based on a partnership between EU institutions, the Commission and the Parliament, and member states.

    Initially the EED mandate extended only to countries in the EU neighbourhood. However, in 2015, EED Board of Governors adopted a decision to extend the remit of EED’s activities to “neighbours of the neighbours”. These include: Bahrain, Chad, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Turkey, & United Arab Emirates, as well as Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan & Uzbekistan.

    In 2018, EED further expanded its operations to the Western Balkans - Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia.

Our people

The work of EED is overseen by its Board of Governors and Executive Committee, composed of representatives from the EU institutions and EU member states, and civil society experts on democracy support. EED’s day-to-day operations are carried out by the Brussels-based Secretariat.

The Board of Governors is chaired by Member of the European Parliament, David McAllister MEP, and consists of 43 members: representatives of the 27 EU member states, UK, Norway, the European External Action Service, a representative designated by the European Commission, nine Members of the European Parliament (representing different political groups and designated by the Conference of Presidents of the European Parliament), and three members elected to represent European civil society.

The Board meets every six months and is responsible for the mandate, mission, and overall guidance of EED’s operations and development. It receives regular reports from the Executive Committee and the Executive Director.

  • David McAllister

    David McAllisterChair
    Member of European Parliament

  • Maria Arena

    Maria ArenaMember of European Parliament

  • Sandra Breka

    Sandra BrekaCivil Society Expert

  • Pavol Demeš

    Pavol DemešCivil Society Expert

  • Anna Fotyga

    Anna FotygaMember of European Parliament

  • Michael Gahler

    Michael GahlerMember of European Parliament

  • Bernard Guetta

    Bernard GuettaMember of European Parliament

  • Tonino Picula

    Tonino PiculaMember of European Parliament

  • Lisbeth Pilegaard

    Lisbeth PilegaardCivil Society Expert

  • Željana Zovko

    Željana ZovkoMember of European Parliament

  • Heidi HAUTALA

    Heidi HAUTALAMember of European Parliament

  • Austria 
  • Belgium 
  • Bulgaria 
  • Croatia  
  • Cyprus  
  • Czech Republic  
  • Denmark  
  • Estonia  
  • Finland  
  • France  
  • Germany  
  • Greece  
  • Hungary  
  • Ireland  
  • Italy  
  • Latvia  
  • Lithuania  
  • Luxembourg  
  • Malta  
  • Norway  
  • Poland  
  • Portugal  
  • Romania  
  • Slovakia  
  • Slovenia  
  • Spain  
  • Sweden  
  • The Netherlands  
  • United Kingdom  
  • European Union  

The Executive Committee (ExCom) consists of seven members who represent a variety of expertise, including those with strong experience in civil society and foundation work, as well as EU member state representatives that meet on average every two months to take funding decisions. Lisbeth Pilegaard is Chair.

  • Lisbeth Pilegaard

    Lisbeth PilegaardChair
    Civil Society Expert

    Biography

    Lisbeth Pilegaard

    Chairperson & Civil Society Expert Biography

    Lisbeth Pilegaard is Executive Director of the Danish Institute for Parties and Democracy (DIPD), which works closely with Danish political parties to support the development of well-functioning democratic political parties, multi-party systems and other institutions. Lisbeth was previously the Executive Director of the Danish Fund Outside, working for the rights of socially marginalized groups.

    Lisbeth has been seconded by the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs as a Humanitarian Affairs Expert Adviser to support the UN High Level Panel for Humanitarian Financing set up by the Secretary-General of the United Nations to address global humanitarian crises.

    Lisbeth previously headed the Department for Middle East & North Africa at KVINFO – a leading Danish institution on Gender, Equality and Diversity – leading the development of strategic partnerships between Denmark and the MENA region, working with over 90 partners within the public, private and civil society sector and the academic world to help increase women’s economic, social and political participation in the region. Lisbeth also headed the Norwegian Refugee Council’s Global Technical Support Unit and established and managed NRC offices in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran as Regional Representative for three years.

    Lisbeth has served in various NGO/UN/EU committees and working groups on development and humanitarian aid coordination, coherence and transparency. She was a civil society member of the Danish Delegation in the 2013 UN Commission of the Status of Women (CSW) and sat in the Council of the NGO Action Aid – Denmark. She has also been a board member of Transparency International – DK Chapter, and was appointed Adviser to UN Compact Cities Programme in Australia. Lisbeth is a Steering Member of the Nordic Women Mediators Network working for the inclusion of women into peace processes globally.

    Lisbeth studied Rhetoric with a focus on international peace negotiations at the University of Copenhagen, and is a regular speaker at academic and political institutions.

  • Pavol Demeš

    Pavol DemešVice-Chair
    Civil Society Expert

    Biography
    Pavol Demeš

    Pavol Demeš

    Civil Society Expert Biography

    Pavol Demeš is an independent expert on foreign policy and civil society based in Bratislava. After the democratic changes in 1989, he served as the Executive Director of the Slovak Academic Information Agency – Service Centre for the Third Sector, a leading NGO in the country at the time. He was Minister of International Relations (1991-1992) and Foreign Policy Advisor to the President of the Slovak Republic (1993-1997). After 10 years as Director for Central and Eastern European of the German Marshall Fund of the United States (2000-2010), Pavol is currently the organisation’s non-resident senior fellow, as well as external advisor to the Slovak Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs.

    Prior to entering the field of public affairs after the Velvet Revolution, Pavol was a bio-medical researcher at Comenius University in Bratislava. He is a graduate of Charles University in Prague, and was a public policy research fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington D.C. in 1999.

    Pavol has written numerous publications on democracy and civil society, and was awarded both the EU-US Democracy and Civil Society and USAID’s Democracy and Governance Awards.

  • Sandra Breka

    Sandra BrekaCivil Society Expert

    Biography
    Sandra Breka

    Sandra Breka

    Civil Society Expert Biography

    Sandra Breka is a senior executive who has been at the forefront of international affairs for 25 years. She has extensive expertise on global issues and their interdependencies with a focus on democracy, inequality, migration, peace and climate change. She has worked on the role and impact of international philanthropy, systemic change and helped build public-private partnerships globally.

    Sandra is a Member of the Board of Directors and the Executive Committee of the European Endowment for Democracy. She furthermore serves on the Board of Trustees of the International Crisis Group as well as the Board of the Berghof Foundation and is a Member of the European Council on Foreign Relations.

    From 2017 to 2022, Sandra was CEO of the Robert Bosch Foundation, one of the largest European operational and grant-making foundations active in the funding areas Global Issues, Health and Education.

    As CEO, Sandra spearheaded the most encompassing strategic and structural realignment in the foundation’s 60-year history. She established the Global Issues funding area focusing on Peace, Climate Change, Democracy, Inequality, Migration and Immigration Society, the foundation’s Strategic Partnerships as well as the Robert Bosch Academy. She, furthermore, oversaw the relaunch of the foundation's Strategic Communications.

    As Senior Vice President from 2008 to 2017, Sandra established the Berlin Representative Office of the foundation, its advocacy activities and developed its funding area focusing on Peace. After joining the foundation as Senior Program Manager in 2001, she initiated the Southeast Europe portfolio, including the International Commission on the Balkans as well as the European Fund for the Balkans. She was, among others, responsible for programs focusing on Transatlantic Relations and Relations with Asia.

    Before joining the Robert Bosch Foundation, Sandra worked as Director of Programs for Southeast Europe and Security Issues at the Aspen Institute Berlin and as Assistant Program Officer at the American Council on Germany in New York. She previously served on the Boards of the Mercator Institute for China Studies and the Munich Security Conference.

    She holds an M.A. from Columbia University in New York and was a Yale World Fellow in 2008.

  • Bernard Guetta

    Bernard GuettaMember of European Parliament

    Biography
    Bernard Guetta

    Bernard Guetta

    Member of European Parliament Biography

    Bernard Guetta is a Member of the European Parliament from France, elected in 2019 on the Renaissance list of the République en Marche. He is a member of the Renew Europe group.

    Before becoming a parliamentarian, he was an acclaimed journalist, specialising on geopolitics, for close to fifty years.

    Between 1979 and 1990 he was the correspondent of the Le Monde daily newspaper in Vienna, Warsaw, Washington and Moscow. From 1991 to 1993 he served as editor-in-chief of the Expansion magazine, he led the editorial team the weekly Nouvel Observateur between 1996 and 1999. From 1991 to 2018 he held a segment on geopolitics in the morning programme of the France Inter public radio. He regularly publishes articles and opinions in Le Temps, in the Libération, in the Italian papers La Repubblica, l'Espresso, and in the Polish newspaper Gazeta.

    In 1981 he received the highest French journalism award, the Albert Londres Prize. For his book "Géopolitique", he was awarded the Mumm Prize in 1989.

    In the European Parliament, he works in the Foreign Affairs Committee, the Human Rights Subcommittee and the Culture and Education Committee. He is member of the Delegation to the EU-Russia Parliamentary Cooperation Committee, the Delegation for relations with the Mashreq countries and the Delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Union for the Mediterranean.

  • Maria Ligor

    Maria LigorRomania

    Biography
    Maria Ligor

    Maria Ligor

    Romania Biography

    Before her current position as Ambassador-at-Large, Special Representative for International Cooperation, Promotion of Democracy and Human Rights, Maria Ligor served as the Minister for Diaspora in the Technocratic Government of Romania in 2016.

    Between 2006 and 2011, she was the Ambassador to the Kingdom of Spain, as well as Permanent Representative to the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). She briefly served as an ad interim Secretary General of the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and from 2003 to 2006, as Director General for European Affairs (EU and bilateral relations).

    A diplomat since 1996, she has worked at the Mission of Romania to the EU (1998-2002), at the Embassy in Luxembourg (1997), and in Bucharest, at the Directorates for Political Planning, for the European Union, and for Western Europe. She also gained internship experience at the European Parliament and the Council of Europe.

    Maria Ligor has a Master’s Degree from the College of Europe in Bruges, and a Diploma of Advanced Studies in Political Sciences from the Université Libre de Bruxelles. Her training includes studies at the European Institute of the University of Geneva, and programmes such as ‘Managing and Shaping Change in the Information Society’, from Harvard University’s JFK School of Government, and the Kokkalis Project in Athens. In Romania, she specialised in International Relations at the National School of Political and Administrative Studies, after graduating from the Polytechnic University of Bucharest in 1990.

  • Jose Maria Muriel

    Jose Maria MurielSpain

    Biography
    Jose Maria Muriel

    Jose Maria Muriel

    Spain Biography

    José María Muriel has served in the Spanish Diplomatic Service since 1990. After posts at the Permanent Representation of Spain to the European Union and the Spanish Embassies in the United States and Canada, he is currently serving as the Technical Secretary General at the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation.

    Muriel has also occupied the positions of the Ambassador-at-Large for Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Spain as well as Consul General of Spain in Hannover, Germany. While working for EU institutions, he held posts of ‘Referendaire’ at the Court of Justice of the European Union and Head of the Justice, Security and Human Rights Team at the EU Delegation to the United States. He was also advisor at the Cabinet of the President of the Government of Spain on bilateral relations in Europe and European affairs.

    In addition to his diplomatic career, Muriel teaches European affairs, human rights and other subjects at the Spanish Diplomatic School and other institutions in Madrid. Muriel also holds a Law Degree from University of Córdoba, and a Master in High European Legal Studies from the College of Europe. He has published numerous articles and books predominantly focusing on European affairs.

  • Jerzy Pomianowski

    Jerzy PomianowskiEED Executive Director

    Biography
    Jerzy Pomianowski

    Jerzy Pomianowski

    EED Executive Director Biography

    Jerzy Pomianowski has worked in international affairs for almost 30 years as Deputy Foreign Minister of Poland, Director of OECD-UNDP’s Partnership for Democratic Governance and Poland’s Ambassador to Japan.

    In 2013, he led the establishment of the European Endowment for Democracy (EED) and has since served as its Executive Director.

    Jerzy began his career as a civil servant in 1990, just after the fall of communism, first in the Ministry of Education, and then in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He oversaw the launch of Poland Aid (2006-2008) and served as Director General of the Polish Foreign Service (2005-2006).

    Before 1989, Pomianowski was an active member of the democratic opposition in Poland. He was Chief-Editor of the Independent Publishing House at the Warsaw University, his Alma Mater.

    In his free time, he serves as president of the Polish Aikido Federation.

The EED team is led by Executive Director, Jerzy Pomianowski, and is comprised of multinational dedicated professionals with wealth of experience from international organisations, NGOs and fieldwork in the countries of EU neighbourhood and beyond.

EED Funding Partners

Twenty-five European countries who are members of the Board of Governors have contributed to EED’s programme budget to date. The EED operations budget is covered by a European Commission grant.

canada eed
EED is supporting inclusive governance in Ukraine with Canada’s C$7.7 million contribution for strengthening a continued inclusive, pluralistic, independent civil society and media in Ukraine.
 

  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Bulgaria
  • Croatia
  • Cyprus
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Hungary
  • Ireland
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • The Netherlands
  • United Kingdom
  • Canada
  • European Union

Iceland and the Robert Bosch Stiftung also contributed to EED programmes.

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