Letter by CSOs to the EED's Board of Governors, President of the European Parliament, Presidents of political groups of the European Parliament
We are deeply concerned with the decision of the Conference of Presidents of the European Parliament to offer a seat on the Board of Governors of the European Endowment for Democracy (EED) to a member of the far-right Identity and Democracy (I&D) political group of the European Parliament. The I&D group represents divisive, polarising and deeply illiberal ideology employed to subvert the raison d’être of the European Union and undermine European values such as human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law, and respect for human rights.
We strongly believe that the presence of members of the I&D group on the EED Board of Governors is in direct conflict with the main objective of the EED, which is “to foster and encourage ‘deep and sustainable democracy’ in transition countries and in societies struggling for democratisation”.
As organisations engaged in the work with civil society in Eastern Partnership countries, we are too well aware of the malicious activities of the parties represented in the I&D group – activities that disrupt, rather than foster, democratisation in the region.
Apart from their illiberal and nativist rhetoric, European far-right parties, including those represented in the I&D group, have historically been known for lobbying for European and non-European illiberal regimes and dictatorships. As we see from the facts listed above, I&D parties have been long engaged in attempts to legitimise controversial, illegitimate and unfair elections and plebiscites conducted by authoritarian states; discrediting European institutions; providing support for corrupt politicians and officials; undermining sovereignty and territorial integrity of Eastern partnership countries; and impeding resolution of territorial conflicts. It is difficult to understand why the I&D group was offered a place on the board of the organisation, the primary objective of which is “to promote the values of freedom and democracy in the European Neighbourhood and beyond”.
We cherished hopes that a place on the board of the important international organisation such as EED would have positive effect on the members of the I&D group and make them stop undermining democratisation in the Eastern Partnership region. Unfortunately, our hopes have proven to be in vain. In July 2020, a delegation of five MEPs from the I&D group headed by the current member of the EED Board of Governors Thierry Mariani illegally travelled to Russia-annexed Crimea to “observe” the “all-Russian voting” on the dubious amendments to the Russian constitution there. Their trip was none other than further proof that the I&D group is fundamentally opposed to European values.
In light of all of the above, we call upon the Conference of Presidents of the European Parliament to reconsider granting a seat on the EED Board of Governors to the I&D group and re-allocate it to any political group that respects European values and stand by the objectives of the EED.