Election observation is a vital EU activity aiming to promote democracy, human rights and the rule of law worldwide. It contributes to strengthening democratic institutions, building public confidence in electoral processes, helping to deter fraud, intimidation and violence. It also reinforces other key EU foreign policy objectives, in particular peace-building. How it works is outlined in the Communication on Election Assistance and Observation and the Handbook for EU Election Observation.
Since 2000 over 60 EU election observation missions have been deployed to all continents, except for the OSCE region, where the OSCE's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) takes the lead.
Election observation gives the opportunity to assess an electoral process according to international standards and best practices for genuine democratic elections. These standards are established by international and regional legal treaties. The country’s political commitments constitute universal principles that apply to the conduct of elections, such as fundamental freedoms and political rights as outlined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
The EU is a leading global actor in providing and financing electoral assistance complementary to election observation. Evaluation of electoral assistance projects and election observation missions’ recommendations are taken into account when planning future electoral assistance. This dual form of EU election support constitutes a significant contribution to the promotion of governance and development objectives.