Check Against Delivery
The 10th Bali Democracy Forum: Does Democracy deliver?
(7 December 2017)
European Union Statement delivered by Mr Gunnar Wiegand, Managing Director Asia-Pacific, European External Action Service, European Union
I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union.
Let me start by congratulating Indonesia on the tenth anniversary of this Democracy Forum as well as on the opening of the Tunis Chapter.
1. One of the greatest challenges to democracy is how to deliver - how to address the expectations and needs of all citizens, while securing a sustainable future for the next generations.
2. In the EU, we believe that democracy delivers and, moreover, is indispensable to the pursuit of peace, social justice and respect for human dignity. It is evident that democracies are fundamentally more effective and responsive in addressing their citizens' needs. States and societies are strong and resilient when they have security and economic stability, but also when they protect human rights, provide decent public services, and have accountable, effective and transparent institutions at all levels. The Rule of law is key in fight against corruption, terrorism and organised crime.
3. Democracy has brought 70 years of peace in the EU, which our continent has never known before. Active civil society, free and pluralistic media, checks and balances have become characteristic features of our societies.
4. However we should not forget that this journey has not always been smooth and we should never take these achievements for granted. If there is something we have learnt throughout the years it is that democracy is never finished and no progress on democracy is irreversible.
5. In fact, democracy is today under pressure all across the world, here and in our continent. Distrust in political institutions and disconnection between political leaders and citizens is one of the major challenges, paving way for populism and anti-establishment discourse. Security challenges, environmental degradation, migration and economic inequalities have added to the complexity.
6. But the EU is also very concerned about the shrinking space for civil society, a global phenomenon that has deepened and accelerated in recent years. Moreover, the shrinking space relates not only to human rights defenders and Civil Society Organisations; it is part of an authoritarian pushback against democracy, attacking fundamental freedoms, media, independent judiciary and other pillars of democracy.
7. At the same time, there are also positive stories and successful democratic transitions. Passionate democratic activism makes inroads in many parts of the world including in Southeast Asia. The EU has always praised and valued the leadership of Indonesia as the world's third largest democracy and a country with a proud tradition of tolerance and pluralism. Citizen engagement, equal access to opportunities, empowerment of women, inclusion of youth and vulnerable groups come more and more to the forefront, especially when talking about sustainable development results.
8. In a modern democracy, digital technology represents a great opportunity to empower ordinary citizens: bringing rapid connectivity and instant communication, but also, when used properly, as a key driver of strengthening confidence and dialogue between citizens and elected representatives and enhancing transparency and accountability. However, our democracies still have to adapt themselves to this new environment, as the major role of social media and the impact of "fake news" on recent elections have shown.
9. The EU is well aware of these challenges and opportunities for democracy. It remains EU's priority to support democratic transitions globally but also to continue improving democratic governance at home, building stronger, and more resilient societies.