Promotional image for the 'Defence of democracy package' event. It features a close-up of a dictionary page with the word 'democracy' in focus. Below this image, there is a blue banner with text providing details of the event: 'Defence of democracy package, Joint SOC/773-FRRL Group Hearing, 5 February 2024 | 10:00 - 13:00, EESC, Brussels, room VMA22 and online.' There are logos for the European Economic and Social Committee and a symbol representing Fundamental Rights and the Rule of Law in the upper right corner.

Defending Democracy: Insights from the European Economic and Social Committee Conference

In a pivotal moment for the European Union, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) hosted the “Defence of Democracy Package” conference on February 5, 2024. This significant event aimed to shed light on the European Commission’s initiative to fortify democratic values, promote free and fair elections, combat disinformation, and enhance civic space and citizen participation. The Defence of Democracy Package, unveiled by the European Commission, has sparked both interest and concern within civil society. The initiative holds the promise of strengthening democratic principles across member states, but some fear that addressing interference from non-EU countries may inadvertently impede civic space.

The conference served as a platform for diverse stakeholders to engage in constructive dialogue, offering their perspectives on the package and contributing to the development of the related EESC opinion. The conference commenced with insightful presentations reflecting the interests of European civil society organizations. One of the central themes revolved around increasing the participation of young people in voting for democratic parties. Recognizing the pivotal role of the youth in shaping the future, participants explored innovative strategies to capture their attention and foster active civic engagement. Within the conference, a speaker emphasized investing in democratic education as a cornerstone for preserving fundamental human rights and civic spaces. Educational initiatives should aim not only to cultivate informed citizens but also to instill a sense of responsibility and commitment to democratic values.

The discussions underscored the interconnectedness of democratic education, free and fair elections, and the fight against disinformation. In conclusion, the “Defence of Democracy Package” conference provided a vital platform for stakeholders to engage in meaningful discussions about the future of democracy in the European Union. The collaborative efforts of civil society, the European Commission, and the EESC showcased a commitment to addressing the challenges faced by democracies today. As the initiative moves forward, it is imperative that the concerns raised are carefully evaluated, and solutions are devised to uphold the principles of democracy without compromising civic space. The journey towards a resilient democracy requires continuous dialogue, education, and adaptability to meet the evolving needs of society.

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