Written by Ionel Zamfir,
From the outset, the European Union (EU) has been an integration project directed at preserving peace among its Member States – a fundamental objective that it has succeeded in achieving for over 60 years. As a community of like-minded states, the EU is also based on certain fundamental values, such as democracy and the rule of law, which the Union aspires to promote, both internally and externally, and which guide all its policies.
In line with this vision, the EU has developed specific policies to support democracy and peace in the world. It also aims to integrate the pursuit of peace and democracy with all its other external actions in areas such as trade, development, enlargement and neighbourhood policies, its common foreign and security policy, and political and diplomatic relations with third countries and multilateral institutions. The EU has established a reputation as a soft power organisation guided by a normative vision and as an effective actor for peace and democracy.
Strengthening peace and democracy globally has never been an easy task, however, and today’s geopolitical context poses new challenges. The proliferation and increasing gravity and duration of conflicts – some in the EU’s immediate neighbourhood, the emergence of new threats, such as terrorism or nuclear proliferation, and the crisis of liberal systems have driven the EU to widen and intensify its efforts. They have also led to a new vision for action revolving around the concept of ‘resilient societies’ based on the mutually reinforcing pillars of peace and democracy, and a special emphasis on fragile states. Against this background, recent surveys have shown that citizens expect the EU to be even more active in promoting peace and democracy externally – something that should surely strengthen its resolve to make further progress in this crucial area.
Read the complete briefing on ‘EU policies – Delivering for citizens: EU support for democracy and peace in the world‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.