Today we mark the International Day of Democracy. For our European Union and for our Member States, this day is an opportunity to celebrate more than 60 years of peace, stability, solidarity and economic development based on democratic principles, fundamental rights and freedoms and the rule of law. And we are proud of these achievements.
At the same time, democracy is an on-going process which has to be carefully nurtured. Our democracies are not always perfect. But this is the essence of democracy: to be aware of the shortcomings and realise that it is never achieved once for all, hence the need of constant care and a critical and vigilant eye. We need to continue improving democratic governance and build it from bottom-up, involving all citizens. Only this way we can face the challenges of the current times in which the vision of our Union as a free and open space is being tested by global events and institutional unpredictability.
The European Union stays committed to democratic reforms in our neighbourhood and beyond, working together with national governments and the civil society in a true and open partnership. It remains a leading global actor in deploying Election Observation Missions, earmarking EUR 45 million per year, as well as in providing electoral assistance, funding projects for more than EUR 180 million in 39 partner countries in the last three years. Since last year to date, the European Union has deployed 10 Election Observation Missions and 18 Election Expert Mission in all continents, with the exception of the OSCE region.
Democracy support is also an investment in the security of our Union and of our citizens. With the EU Global Strategy for Foreign and Security Policy, we confirmed our investment in the European way to upholding a rules-based global order through the strength and values of democracy.
Democracy is deeply linked to the pursuit of peace, social justice and respect for human dignity across the globe. And the European Union will continue promoting democratic principles both at home and globally. Only this way, we can continue the work of our founding fathers and mothers for Europe.