EED launches 2022 Annual Report in European Parliament
The EED 2022 Annual Report was presented at the European Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs (AFET) on 23 March.
On 23 March 2023, EED Executive Director, Jerzy Pomianowski presented the EED 2022 Annual Report at the European Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs (AFET) for the ninth consecutive year.
Introducing Jerzy Pomianowski, David Mc Allister MEP, Chair of the AFET Committee and Chair of the EED Board of Governors, noted that at a time when the challenges facing democracy are immense, it is vital to continue supporting those who defend democracy.
Pomianowski described 2022 as one of the most difficult years since the establishment of EED.
Lifeline to Ukraine in early 2022
Ukraine was a focus of EED's work in 2022. During the Spring, EED provided a vital lifeline to civil society and independent media in Ukraine at a time when many other grant making organisations were forced to temporarily suspend grant programmes.
On 25 February, 24 hours after the beginning of the full-scale invasion, EED launched an Emergency Support Mechanism which provided over €2 million of support to activists in need. EED issued an average of one grant per day during the first 60 days of war. Funding requests were turned around quickly, sometimes in 12 hours. EED set up the EED Centre for Ukrainian Activists (CUA) in Przemysl, Poland, to support activists abroad.
During his speech, Pomianowski shared four key messages that are important at this time.
First, the horrors of this war have made the link between democracy and security clearer and more visible than ever before. A deficit of democracy in one country brings insecurity to the whole region. Well-implemented democracy support provides long-term security benefits.
Second, even though given present circumstances, the focus today is on Ukraine, if we do not put enough time, effort and resources today into enabling democratic futures for Belarus, Moldova, Armenia, Georgia - and hopefully some day Russia - the whole region will remain insecure for years to come.
Thirdly, conflicts and insecurity always start with words, narratives and emotions. Dictators and autocrats care about the mindsets of their populations, even though they have repressive systems at their disposal.
In supporting democracy, we must try to find ways to counteract these narratives by supporting independent ethical media, who can fight disinformation and empower citizens to hold authorities accountable.
And finally, when big tests face us - such as war or major political change -– there is no half-way response. As the international community, we must be bold in our messaging. Our voice of support needs to be clear and strong.
Pomianowski noted the need to act decisively - in Georgia, for instance, to prevent further attempts to restrict democracy; in Tunisia too, where democracy activists and independent media now face harassment and detention in the aftermath of the coup d'etat; and in many other contexts too.
AFET Committee commends EED’s work
A number of MEPs spoke in support of EED’s work. Michael Gahler MEP thanked EED for its work, noting too the importance of “wining the peace in Ukraine,” an aspect mentioned in Pomianowski speech, and the vital role that civil society must play in this process. He also noted the importance of Tunisian civil society working together to get the country back on a democratic track.
Nacho Sanchez Amor MEP stated the importance of developing a narrative for promoting democracy that can provide a viable alternative to the creeping narrative of autocratic regimes.
Viola Von Cramon-Taubadel MEP commended EED’s work in Ukraine, Bosnia and Serbia, in particular, and its crucial role in supporting independent media.
Andrius Kubilius MEP thanked EED for its work, also noting how the erosion of democracy leads to autocracy, and the global competition of democracy against autocracy. He stated the importance of promoting democracy throughout the European Neighbourhood.
Zeljana Zovko MEP noted the importance of changing narratives, and of learning the lessons of the past so that we can prevent future conflicts.
Closing the meeting, David Mc Allister MEP noted the proven value of EED in promoting democratic values worldwide, and stated that the European Parliament is a staunch supporter of EED.
The presentation of the 2022 Annual Report can be watched here.