09 May 2008

Is European democracy promotion on the wane?

Richard Youngs

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The EU routinely asserts that the promotion of democracy and human rights is central to its international identity. However, while in some places the EU has a relatively strong record as a supporter of democratic values, it is failing to respond effectively to the emergence of a vastly more challenging environment for democracy promotion. This paper reveals serious limits across three strands of democracy policy – the magnitude of incentives offered in return for democratic change, the degree of critical pressure exerted for democratic reform and the scale of European democracy funding. Even where the EU is building on the initiatives it has pursued for the last two decades, the paper demonstrates that these policies fail to measure up to the challenges posed by the new international context.