EU launches new fund to help oppressed


Pro-democracy movements in oppressive states like Belarus will soon have access to grants through a new Brussels-based fund, Belgian-based media outlet EUobserver reports.

Officially launched on January 9, 2012, the European Endowment for Democracy (EED) is a joint undertaking by the European Commission and a handful of member states and European deputies.

“The endowment comes at a very timely moment, as 2013 will be a crucial year for democratic transitions, in particular in the EU’s neighbourhood,” the EU’s foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said.

The EED signed an initial €6.2 million contract with the commission in September last year. Switzerland and a handful of other member states committed an additional €8 million. Another €10 million from the commission is expected over the next three years, Polish newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza reports.

The fund is designed to bypass the more heavy administrative procedures attached to EU grant-giving and is open to journalists, bloggers, non-registered NGOs, and political movements – even in exile. Movements in Algeria, Armenia, the Palestinian Authority, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Egypt, Georgia, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Moldova, Syria and Ukraine will have access to the endowment.

Belsat, following EUobserver

www.belsat.eu/en

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