Rethinking and Reshapingthe EU’s Democracy Supportin Its Eastern and Southern Neighbourhoods

Consortium holds its 1st Annual Progress Meeting in Kraków

On October 9-11, the consortium met in beautiful Kraków to hold its first Annual Progress and Assembly Meeting, hosted by the Faculty of International and Political Studies of the Jagiellonian University.

Starting with a consortium-internal workshop on EU Member State Democracy Support Practices (WP5) on Monday morning, the consortium partners presented their first experiences and results of theoretical and empirical approaches to analysing democracy support of EU member states (EUMS). This session included brief input from researchers of SHAPEDEM-EU's sister projects REDEMOS and EMBRACE.

In the afternoon, coordinator Prof Andrea Gawrich (JLU) and consortium partner and host Prof Magdalena Góra (JUK) held their welcome remarks and introduced the audience to the upcoming three days of exchange and discussion. As a first highlight, Marzenna Guz-Vetter, an expert of Team Europe Direct Network of the European Commission and former head of the EC Representation in Poland, gave her keynote speech on the EU's enlargement and neighbourhood policy against the background of the new geopolitical and institutional challenges. The keynote was followed by SHAPEDEM-EU partners' response discussion and a reception hosted by JUK.

The second day commenced with conceptual discussions on SHAPEDEM-EU's cross-cutting challenges Gender Equality and Digital Transformations, accompanied by several inputs and on online exchange with SHAPEDEM-EU's current fellows Lilit Hakobyan from Armenia and Khouloud Baghouri from Tunisia. In the further course of the day, the consortium heard perspectives from the Eastern and Southern Neighbourhoods, followed by a small working session on the draft democracy support concepts within WP1.

After a light lunch break, the consortium had the pleasure of a hybrid exchange with its sister projects again. In particular for consortium partners that have not yet met the sister coordinators, the chat on common and distinct methodologies and approaches were considered helpful for future discussions on joint efforts. After a short coffee break, the closed consortium meeting commenced with a discussion on the planned implementation of SHAPEDEM-EU's Democracy Learning Loop, followed by a session with members of our International Advisory Board. Consortium partners highly appreciated the inputs on current political and diplomatic developments given by Dirk Schübel, who connected to this session online, and Daniela Huber and Andrey Makarychev as in-person participants.

Day 3 was marked by highlights and challenges of the work conducted during the first project year, presented by all Work Package leaders and accompanied by lively discussions from project partners. The consortium is proud to announce that it has progressed towards reaching its objectives and is on track within its tasks.

The shocking news about the uprising Israel-Gaza conflict overshadowed the conference. However, all SHAPEDEM-EU consortium partners coincide to continue working hard on its journey of rethinking and reshaping the EU's democracy support in the Eastern and Southern Neighbourhood to avoid contradicting practices in different policy fields by introducing a democracy learning loop.