Towards a more comprehensive EU Approach to engage with political parties

Expert discussion under Chatham House rule

Political parties are key instruments in achieving power in a representative democracy. This is the main reason why governments and political elites in all countries are highly sensitive to the cooperation of foreign actors with political parties. Understandably, these governments are opposed to outside influence affecting their domestic power structures. However, political parties are not just instruments to achieve power in a representative democracy. Their structures and activities are also highly relevant for the inclusivity and stability of a representative democracy. If they are disorganized or dysfunctional, the quality of the democratic order, including government accountability and the respect and promotion of human rights, is negatively affected. These two fundamental observations create a dilemma for the EU in its agenda to promote democracy and human rights in its external action: if the EU excludes political party cooperation from its programs and activities, it cannot achieve important objectives in the field of democracy and human rights. If the EU includes political party cooperation, it risks running into serious conflict with the respective host countries’ governments and political elites. Beyond democracy and human rights, EU engagement in political party cooperation can offer opportunities for promoting constructive partnerships in the areas of peace and security, climate change and disaster prevention, the management of migration, or other thematic fields. Political parties are the key channels through which current and future leaders develop both their understanding of policies and original ideas. Through political party cooperation programs, the EU and European stakeholders develop trusting and supportive relationships with future political leaders, irrespective of the ruling government and any potential political changes.


The Multinational Development Policy Dialogue of KAS in cooperation with the European Network of Political Foundations (ENoP) will start a series of dialogues in order to foster a more systematic exchange on strategies and approaches from political party cooperation based on peer-to-peer and multiparty approaches, including direct and indirect elements of cooperation. The main goals of the initiative are:


  • Supporting the conceptualisation of an EU strategy/approach to political party support and raise awareness/capacity in EU Delegations on the issue
  • Formulating clear recommendations for the EU approach to engage with political parties
  • Identifying current risks, shortcomings and bottlenecks in cooperating with political parties in different political contexts
  • Reflecting upon lesson learned of cooperation approaches and methodologies of working with political parties
Zum Kalender hinzufügen


  • Henriette Geiger
    • Director
    • People and Peace
    • Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development
    • European Commission
  • Helena Bjuremalm
    • Deputy Head of Democracy and Human Rights Division
    • Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA)
  • Lisbeth Pilegaard
    • Director
    • Danish Institute for Parties and Democracy (DIPD)
  • Laura Thornton
    • Director for Global Programme
    • International IDEA
  • Franziska Fislage
    • Desk Officer for International Party Dialogue
    • KAS

Denis Schrey

Denis Schrey bild

Leiter des Multinationalen Entwicklungsdialogs Brüssel (MNED) +32 2 66931 70 +32 2 66931 62

Carolin Löprich

Carolin Löprich

Programm-Managerin Demokratie und Nachhaltige Entwicklung +32 2 66931 71 +32 2 66931 62