Scholars sound alarm bells over the state of democracy in the EU


Democracy, which protects freedom and citizens’ rights more than any other form of governance, is in crisis. On May 23rd, CEPS hosted a seminar to launch a new book Challenges of Democracy in the European Union and its Neighbors, co-edited by Sasha Toperich (Senior Fellow and Director of the Mediterranean Basin Initiative at the Center for Transatlantic Relations at SAIS) and Aylin Ünver Noi (Non-Resident Fellow at SAIS and Assistant Professor and Director of the European Union Application and Research Center at Gedik University). Together with Mario Telo (Emeritus IEE-ULB President and Member of the Belgian Royal Academy of Sciences), the panel of speakers sounded alarm bells about the state of democracy in the EU, which has been sorely tested in recent years in some member states, in EU candidate countries and in the European neighbourhood. Citizens’ trust in the European Union’s democratic institutions is waning. And the EU’s ‘normative power’ – its ability to spread its norms and values to other states – and its ‘soft power’ – to attract others to its point of view – are now seen as also less likely to spread democracy within EU or to create a ring of well-governed states among its neighbours. The speakers suggest that democracy and its institutions need to adapt to these new challenges.