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.
Election observation gives the opportunity to assess an electoral process according to international standards. The EU is a leading global actor in providing and financing electoral assistance complementary to election observation. This dual form of EU election support constitutes a significant contribution to the promotion of governance and development objectives.
With these objectives in mind, the European Union has become a leading force in international election observation. Since 2000 over 120 EU Election Observation Missions (EU EOMs) have been deployed to all continents (with the exception of the OSCE region), following a long-term observation methodology to assess election processes according to international standards and best practices for genuine democratic elections.
In addition to election observation, the European Commission is engaged in election assistance, which provides technical or material support to electoral processes. More information on election assistance is available on the Development and cooperation - EuropeAid website.
The purpose of EU election observation missions (EOMs) is to assist partner countries in holding elections of a high standard. In this context, the EU EOM conducts a comprehensive analysis of the electoral process and provides an impartial and informed assessment of the elections to strengthen the confidence of voters to participate freely.
An observation mission assesses all aspects of the electoral process, its constitutional and legal framework, the delimitation of constituencies, the registration of voters and candidates, the training of election staff, voter education, media coverage, the campaign and the preparations for election day, as well as the appeals process. On election day, observers visit pooling stations in order to observe the opening, voting, counting and aggregation of results.
Its fundamental principles are full coverage, impartiality, transparency and professionalism. Its ultimate objective is to become superfluous by entrenching democracy deep within each nation through the development of national capacities.
Its main goals are the legitimisation of an electoral process, where appropriate, and the enhancement of public confidence in the electoral process to deter fraud, to strengthen respect for human rights, and to contribute to conflict resolution.
EU EOMs follow a very precise methodology that is a warrant of the implementation of these principles.