European Union,International

Contribution on electoral reforms to the European Democracy Action Plan

16 Sep , 2020  

Election-Watch.EU contributed to a comprehensive input paper on the European Democracy Action Plan coordinated by the European Partnership for Democracy (EPD). 

In addition a joint statement with 5 demands for the European Democracy Action Plan was drafted and endorsed by a coalition of 46 organisations working on democracy, human rights, media and the rule of law in Europe. Together, with 45 other organisations Election-Watch.EU  demands the European Democracy Action Plan to be ambitious and comprehensive in scope, and implemented in an inclusive multistakeholder manner using all the tools the European Commission has at its disposal.

In Chapter 2 of the comprehensive input paper on the European Democracy Action Plan Election-Watch.EU co-drafted four key recommendations for electoral reform within the EU based on its 2019 Election Assessment Mission:

  1. European electoral reform: There is an urgent need to make elections more inclusive, representative and transparent. This includes endorsing the Spitzenkandidaten principle, the equality of suffrage rights, the right to vote and inclusiveness of persons with disabilities, the overall accessibility of elections, political party and campaign finance, election debates, and election observation.
  2. Online political advertising: There is a need for enhanced transparency of online advertising standards and practices, including mandatory full ad libraries. Measures to limit microtargeting of political ads, preventing it from happening without a valid legal basis, are also crucial. In addition, the European Commission should support and provide guidance to Member States when modernising their national electoral and advertising laws, and develop a well-balanced approach to limit cross-border campaigning.
  3. European Cooperation Network on Elections: A variety of recommendations point to the need to strengthen cooperation, lesson-sharing and capacity building through the European Cooperation Network on Elections. While the Member States retain the competence over election management, there is an important coordinating and capacity building role for the European Commission. The Network
    should share best practices on election infrastructure and new forms of digital campaigning, encourage reforms to allow for citizen monitoring, issue guidelines for election during a pandemic, and support coordination among data protection authorities to improve data protection in elections.
  4. Monitor national elections in the EU: The EU should establish and promote enabling mechanisms for citizen election observation of European and Member States’ elections in line with international principles and regional commitments. All EU Member States should include in their legislation provisions to explicitly allow for access and accreditation of international and national election observation.

For this joint civil society initiative EPD brought together input from 48 civil society organisations and summarises that “(t)he input paper takes a deep dive into what actions are needed to rejuvenate democracy when it comes to civic space and active citizenship, disinformation and platform governance, election integrity, and media pluralism and safety of journalists. The paper includes a wide range of recommendations, detailing action points from the European Citizens Initiative and an expanded EU Rule of Law mechanism, to a decentralised funding framework for tackling disinformation and transparency measures to deal with political advertising.”

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