Foreign Interference Directive: What are the risks?

23 April 2024 | Advocacy, Defence of Democracy

Civil Society Europe has published a new analysis on the Foreign Interference Directive outlining the main concerns of civil society.

On 12 December 2023, as part of the Defence of Democracy package, the European Commission (the “Commission”) published a proposal for a directive on the transparency of interest representation on behalf of third countries (the “Directive”). Considering the forthcoming European Parliament elections, the Directive will primarily be negotiated and adopted in the next legislature. It is our understanding that the Belgian Presidency aims to agree on the Council’s General Approach by the end of June and that preliminary discussions will take place in the European Parliament over the coming months.

We outline below our primary concerns as the undersigned civil society organisations (“CSOs”) and why we believe the proposal fails to address the fundamental rights issues raised during the consultation process. We welcome the need for transparency and the Commission’s underlying concern about the increasing attempts to undermine democracy across Europe. However, we believe the Directive is not the correct instrument to pursue this goal and that it does not address the underlying issues (Section 3). Instead, the Directive imposes burdensome obligations on CSOs (Section 4), who are among the most active actors in ensuring transparency and protecting civic space and who play a key role in ensuring that democracy is protected from threats, whether they come from internal or external sources. Thus, placing additional restrictions on civil society will undermine the crucial role that CSOs play without effectively tackling undue interference in democratic processes (Section 3).