Today, the European Commission has launched a new public consultation to gather the views of citizens on the future European Democracy Action Plan. The new Action Plan is a political priority for the von der Leyen Commission and will tackle some of the key challenges for the European democracy. These include external interference and manipulation in elections, media freedom and pluralism and the fight against disinformation. European citizens, as well as election authorities, political parties, media, journalists and online platforms are all invited to have their say until 15 September 2020.
Věra Jourová, European Commission Vice-President for Values and Transparency, said: “A well-functioning democracy provides every citizen with the space to have their own views and a channel through which they can express their views on policy. This is why today I am happy to launch a new public consultation. Later this year, we will present a new European Democracy Action Plan to help improve the resilience of our democracies and address the threats of external interference in European elections. But before we do, it is crucial we gather the views of those the Plan is supposed to support – our citizens.”
Areas covered by the public consultation
The purpose of the consultation is for the Commission to find out what Europeans think about the three main pillars of the future European Democracy Action Plan:
- Integrity of elections and political advertising: questions coverissues relating to the evolving space for public debate and electoral campaigns, including key issues such as the transparency of political advertising online, possible threats to the integrity of elections and the role of European political parties;
- Strengthening media freedom and media pluralism: questions touch upon improving the protection of journalists and their rights, as well as the issue of media independence and cross-border cooperation;
- Tackling disinformation in the EU: questions focus on the definition of disinformation and the possible actions the platforms and other actors could undertake to tackle the phenomena of disinformation.
In addition, the public consultation includes questions on how to enhance support to civil society and active citizenship.
In her Political Guidelines, President von der Leyen, stated that more needs to be done to protect the EU from external interference into democratic systems. A joint approach to tackle disinformation and online hate messages must be developed. In this vein, President von der Leyen committed to presenting the European Democracy Action Plan and entrusted Vice-President Věra Jourová with the preparation.
The Action Plan, which is planned for the end of 2020, will be constructed around the three integrated themes, for which citizens’ engagement will be of particular importance:
- Elections integrity and how to ensure electoral systems are free and fair;
- Strengthening freedom of expression and the democratic debate, looking at media freedom and media pluralism, as well as at the role of civil society;
- Tackling disinformation in a coherent manner, considering the need to look together at all the means used to interfere in our democratic system, and building upon actions listed in the recent communication on tackling COVID-19-related disinformation.
In parallel, a public consultation on the Digital Services Act package was launched on 2 June 2020 and will run until 8 September 2020, also covering relevant elements in the context of the European Democracy Action Plan.