Of the 27 countries that constitute its member states today, almost half were authoritarian regimes shortly before joining, and the EU can claim substantial credit for their transition to democracy. However, just as the financial crisis has highlighted the fact that the EU’s economic prosperity cannot be assumed, so too its position in the vanguard of democratic development cannot be taken for granted.
This project will explore how the European Union can prevent ‘backsliding’ on democratic commitments (as defined by the Copenhagen Criteria) among EU member states. This includes both new and recent entrants (e.g. lack of a free press in Hungary, or corruption in Bulgaria), as well as more established EU member states (e.g. deportation of Roma in France, and media monopolies in Italy).
For this project, Demos is developing a new index for measuring democracy among EU member states. The index will draw on previous Demos work in the Everyday Democracy Index, established democracy indices such as the World Bank Index and the Economist Intelligence Unit Index, and population surveys across European countries. The research will also include in-depth case studies of countries that have been accused of undemocratic actions in the past five years: Bulgaria, France, Greece, Hungary, Italy and Latvia.
The final report, which will be launched in November 2012, will include recommendations for how the EU can more effectively prevent democratic backsliding in all member states.