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European Union Election Observation Missions (EU EOMs) play an increasing and significant role in EU foreign policy and democracy assistance through the provision of methodical and practical assessments of electoral processes in partner countries. They are increasingly becoming a tool for evaluating the state of democratic progress or deficits of a country, providing the basis for designing future technical assistance to partner countries in a manner that could facilitate their democratic development. The European Commission (EC) is at the vanguard of the promotion of tools for the elaboration and reception of this notion, in conformity with the commitment of the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR) to democracy assistance and human rights promotion, and to the provision of electoral support, through a two-tier strategy of election observation and electoral assistance. EIDHR’s strategy aims to strengthen democracy-building and protection / promotion of human rights. This strategy is based on civil society organisations becoming an effective force for dialogue and a promoting vector of democratic reforms, also through election observation activities and the provision of concrete recommendations for the promotion of democratic reforms.

The Network for Enhanced Electoral and Democratic Support (NEEDS), a project funded by the EU Commission, will contribute to the consolidation of a consistent methodology for EU EOMs in line with international and regional commitments for democratic elections. The NEEDS project will work on achieving a stronger common European approach to the recruitment and training of observers and act as a facilitator for know-how transfer to civil society and domestic observer organisations. In accordance with the most recent developments in the EC’s strategy for democracy support, the project ses the next big challenge as the creation of proper synergies between EU EOMs and electoral assistance, to facilitate the inclusion of EU EOM and domestic observer recommendations in the political dialogue that the EU institutions hold with the partner countries and all their stakeholders, and further the development and impact of electoral observation in the promotion of democracy worldwide.

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