Europe

President von der Leyen’s State of the Union Address: Strengthening Europe’s soul


On the International Day of Democracy today (15 September), High Representative/Vice President Josep Borrell
 (pictured) and Vice President Dubravka Šuica issued a joint statement: “Whether you care about climate change, jobs, the economy, or racial and social justice, your voice will only be heard and your vote will only count if you live in a democracy. In these challenging times, the EU will remain a steadfast and outspoken supporter of democracy, human rights and the rule of law worldwide and within the EU.

“Collective efforts are needed, together with a new perspective on supporting democracy that delivers for citizens are needed. This work starts at home. Promoting free and fair elections, ensuring rule of law and media freedom are building blocks to create a space where every citizen feels free and empowered. More than ever, we must defend the ability of free and pluralistic media to provide timely access to reliable and accurate information, and fight disinformation. We will continue working to make our own democracies more resilient and innovative, benefitting from the opportunities offered by new technologies. We will create ever more possibilities to engage citizens through a range of deliberative democracy approaches.

“The European Democracy Action Plan sets out measures to promote free and fair elections, strengthen media freedom and pluralism, and counter disinformation. Across the world, we are scaling up our financial and political support for those who, regardless of gender or background, promote democratic participation and inclusion, ensure institutional checks and balances, and hold decision makers to account. We are building alliances with all those committed to upholding universal rights and freedoms, with democratic governments but also with international organisations, civil society organisations, parliaments, political parties, independent media, bloggers, human rights defenders and activists. This year has seen the start of the Conference on the Future of Europe, a unique and timely opportunity for European citizens to debate on Europe’s challenges and priorities.

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“The Conference brings citizens into the heart of policy-making in the EU. We have committed to listen to Europeans and to follow up on the recommendations made by the Conference. Their vision can drive the change towards a democracy fit for the future. It is only the beginning. With this, we renew our commitment to build healthier, stronger and more equal societies for all, where everyone is included, respected, protected and empowered. This is how we will strengthen our democracies.” 

The full statement is available online


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