European Partnership for Democracy (EPD) is a not-for-profit organisation with a global remit to support democracy. They bring together a network of 18 organisations specialising in different areas of a democratic system.
Mission and Purpose
EPD is unique because of our horizontal and vertical coverage of the key players within a democratic system and our ability to straddle the academic, policy and practitioner worlds.
Our light central structure and ability to innovate and adapt mean that EPD is ideally placed to make a difference in a changing, dynamic and unpredictable world. Our collective strength allows us to understand the evolving challenges in political systems and democratic governance, to build evidence of what works - and what doesn’t - and to tackle programmes in ways that respond to the complexity of the challenge.
EPD has direct insight and hands-on experience of the various dimensions of democratic governance that must work in parallel in a functioning democracy. This is because we bring together organisations with a solid track-record, vast external reach, strong relationships with key domestic actors and specialisations of working on:
- different fields of democracy support: media support, civic tech, political parties, local authorities, elections, the rule of law, women’s participation, parliamentary support, multi-stakeholder dialogue, political and civil rights, civil society capacity building, ICT and civic and political education;
- different levels of society: political leadership, elected representatives, state officials, civil society and grassroots community representatives.
We work with state and non-state actors in Europe and abroad. EPD brings this expertise together in order to combat the traditional approach of working in silos. This wealth of knowledge means that EPD is a veritable centre of expertise for democracy support.
Through focusing on the whole of the democratic system, EPD is also able to look at the links between actors rather than just the actors themselves. These links are frequently missed even if it is clear that changes in one element of the system produce intended and unintended ripple effects on other parts of the system.
It is also through this diverse knowledge and experience that EPD is able to take a bird’s eye view of the challenges affecting democracy and provide analysis and research for the benefit of all those supporting democracy around the world. From our headquarters in Brussels we centralise information from around Europe and likewise feed information from Brussels to European states through our members. We have proven that we can make a difference in the policy space based on the evidence from our research and our field experience.
Organizational Structure, Membership, and Funding
EPD is conceived as a “Community of practice“. That is, a group of organisations which work together because, by doing so, they can substantially improve the way they operate in the realm of democracy support. This notion does not only apply to EPD as a network and its institutional development, but also to all the actions and partnerships constructed under the EPD banner.
The following organisations are members of EPD and have signed the EPD statutes. All members take part in the General Assembly that governs the organisation and where seven members are elected to the EPD Board for a period of 2 years. From these 7 board members, a President, Vice-President and Treasurer are elected for the duration of the 2-year period.
- Article 19
- CFI Media Development
- Danish Institute for Parties and Democracy (DIPD)
- Democracy Reporting International
- Demo Finland
- Election Watch
- European Association for Local Democracy (ALDA)
- European Exchange
- ePaństwo Foundation
- Netherlands Helsinki Committee
- Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy (NIMD)
- Oslo Center
- People in Need
- Catholic University of Portugal
- Westminster Foundation for Democracy
- World Leadership Alliance - Club de Madrid
EPD main sources of funding are reported here.
EPD’s uniqueness as an organisation is our horizontal and vertical coverage of the key players within a democratic system and our ability to straddle the academic, policy and practitioner worlds. Our ability to innovate and adapt, means that we are ideally placed to make a difference in a changing, dynamic and unpredictable world. Our toolkit for working on our multi-annual priorities is based on the three pillars constituting the core of the EPD approach: knowledge, advocacy and programmes.
- Advocacy: We actively work towards improving democracy support policies and advising on foreign policies that can reinforce democracy in the face of global challenges. Through our head office in Brussels, we play a key role in contributing to improving democracy support policies, working closely with EU institutions, European governments, and building civil society coalitions together with our partners.
- Programmes: We bring together the expertise of specialists from various sectors of democracy support (parliaments, parties, elections, human rights, media, executive leadership, ICT etc.) on joint programmes in which we apply our in-house methods for creating political dialogue and behavioural changes. EPD and its members’ programmes focus on Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, Europe and Africa.
- Knowledge: We push the boundaries of democratic thinking and facilitate the exchange of experiences and lessons learned amongst practitioners from different sectors of the democracy support community. Our research investigates gaps in the democracy field and helps us inform our advocacy work.
The members of EPD have come together to create various joint approaches that make the most of the comparative advantage of the network. Due to the expertise from different sectors and the variety of experience in terms of partners, EPD is able to take a more holistic approach to democratic development. All the constituent elements of a political system are interlinked and it is therefore paramount for links to be made between specialists from different fields of democracy support. EPD has developed different joint approaches that are implemented around the world, either stand alone or within other projects. You can find out more by clicking on the links below.
- INSPIRED is a method of policy dialogue that aims to promote transparency and accountability by guiding policy dialogue through three phases: collective assessment, consensus-building, and monitoring. In particular, it encourages international aid organisations and practitioners to make use of policy dialogue, by enhancing its inclusiveness and putting in place participatory mechanisms that make it more representative and legitimate. Its main assumption is that policies that have been elaborated taking into account different interests and view points are more likely to resist sudden changes in the balance of powers than policies that benefit only a small ruling elite.
- SPACE is a 3-step approach that has been developed to design programmes and projects that contribute to creating space for civil society, drawing on the unique mix of skills and expertise of 18 European organisations that support democracy in more than 100 countries worldwide. It starts out with a Democratic Institutions for a Conducive Environment (DICE) assessment aimed at creating a better understanding of how democratic institutions drive or hinder the development of civil society space in the country. DICE is tailored to the local context, as it uses tools for stakeholder mapping and Political Economy Analysis (PEA) to identify opportunities for influencing positive change.
The Digital-Democracy-Development Nexus: How to effectively advance the EU’s Digital Policy abroad, EPD, 2021
Toward a New Era of European Support to Political Party Systems, EPD, 2021
Thinking Democratically: A Comprehensive Approach to Countering and Preventing "Shrinking Space", EPD, 2020
Programming for Democracy: A how-to guide for different areas of democratic support, EPD, 2020
Louder than words? Connecting the dots of European democracy support, EPD, 2019