EUSpring | Report on democracy assistance from the European Union to the Middle East and North Africa

19 May 2016
Rosa Balfour (Senior Adviser to EPC on Europe in the World), Francesca Fabbri (Former Policy Analyst at the EPC) and Richard Youngs (Senior Associate in the Democracy and Rule of Law Programme, Carnegie Europe)

Since the Arab uprisings of 2011, European Union (EU) assistance has nominally targeted more resources to supporting democracy movements in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. The EU has better equipped itself institutionally, financially and conceptually, by strengthening its bottom up grassroots approach to democracy support; resources earmarked for supporting civil society have been increased, the budget for the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR) has been beefed up, and the strengthened EU Delegations have be come more empowered to reach out to groups at the local grass roots level behind democracy activities; The European Endowment for Democracy (EED) was created with the mandate to support individuals and organizations in neighbouring countries that work for democracy. Whether this translates into a more effective strategy for democracy support, however, remains to be seen. In this report, Rosa Balfour, Francesca Fabbri and Richard Youngs present a detailed overview of the support given to civil society in the MENA region by the EU, with a special focus on the various financial instruments used. 

This paper is published in the framework of the EUSpring project on Democracy and Citizenship in North Africa after the Arab Awakening: Challenges for EU and US Foreign Policy ( The project is carried out by a consortium of organisations, including the European Policy Centre, University of Warwick in the United Kingdom, The German Marshall Fund of the United States, the Cairo Institute for Human Rights, the Centre for Mediterranean and International Studies in Tunisia and the Centre de Recherche sur l'Afrique et la Méditerranée in Morocco and coordinated by Università degli Studi L’Orientale in Naples. The project is supported by the Compagnia di San Paolo.