ECES devised a strategy called "A European Response to Electoral Cycles Support (EURECS)”, an operating model that outlines a number of guiding principles for delivering electoral assistance, via specific methodologies that have been also copyrighted, i.e. EPEA, LEAD, PEV.
The strategy was presented by ECES President, Monica Frassoni, during the International Day of Democracy celebrated at the European Parliament on 28 of September 2016. The event was held in cooperation with the European External Action Service (EEAS).
EURECS outlines the lessons learned accumulated over the last five years from ECES and its partners in support of electoral and democratisation processes. This initiative is very much in line with the five strategic areas of the EU Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy 2015-2019, and the call to “strengthen long-term planning and integrated deployment of all aspects of EU and Member State support to the electoral cycle, by exploring innovative aid delivery mechanisms”.
The main aim of the EURECS is to offer the EU, its Member States, other European donors and beneficiary countries an innovative delivery mechanism for electoral and democracy assistance to implement projects and programmes that are consistent with European values and EU policies. Secondly, it is built to help prevent, mitigate and manage electoral related conflicts, in line with international standards, commitments, and obligations. Lastly, based on the idea that elections are long-term processes, EURECS is designed to include a wide range of actors from election management bodies, civil society, political parties, local authorities, parliament, security forces and media to ensure a truly comprehensive and more sustainable approach.
The EU has now become one of the most important global players in the promotion of credible and transparent elections through its election observation and electoral assistance activities. These complementary and mutually reinforcing activities are often embedded in a broader support framework including institution-building. However, the objectives of the Communication of the Commission 191/2000 on Election Assistance and Observation, which opened the modern era of EU electoral support, have been only half achieved. While the observation pillar has considerably evolved and becomes a key external policy instrument, the other envisaged pillar of the communication, electoral assistance, despite the conspicuous investment, has not been received of an equal degree of institutional attention and related operational development.
Election observation is guided by a clear, systematic and regularly updated policy and methodology while the “EC Methodological Guide for Electoral Assistance” which makes use of the Electoral Cycle Approach methodological tool, dates back to 2006. This approach remains pertinent since it advocates for long term support, notably in the period between elections, fostering capacity development and knowledge transfer for sustainability resilience to eventual democratic setbacks. Ten years down the line, we can conclude that the electoral cycle approach has yet to be fully implemented when it comes to long-term support in the period between elections. Furthermore, support to electoral stakeholders remains largely focused on electoral management bodies and is thus unevenly spread among the other electoral stakeholders, including local authorities.
In this context, ECES also takes into consideration the recommendations of the EU Election Observation Missions (EU EOMs), Election Experts Missions (EEMs) and follow up missions in the formulation and implementation of activities in support of a given electoral cycle. Moreover, it also liaises continuously with the EU Parliament, European Commission (EC) and EEAS dealing with election observations at Brussels level.
Furthermore, ECES, in coordination with other election assistance providers, and via the PEV and EURECS project funded by IcSP, EDF, German Cooperation and KFW Germany respectively, will ensure the coverage of all phases of the electoral cycle within the activities implemented in favour of the different electoral stakeholders; like CSOs, NEBE, security forces and the judiciary sector, dealing with electoral dispute resolution.
The projects will be implemented by team that are interdisciplinary formed, with skills adapted to the needs of EURECS and PEV based on a human resource plan duly submitted to the EU services. The human resource plan also entails mobilizing experts from ECES partners in Ethiopia, GOInnovation and Forum of Federation, including professional profiles with a broad overarching perspective on democracy support, capacity development and conflict management in Ethiopia.
In this context, ECES, reconfirms its commitment and readiness to implement electoral and democracy assistance projects and programs in a tailored and holistic way. ECES ensures a global, empirical-based understanding of the multiple challenges related to supporting throughout electoral cycles, stemming from extensive field experience from having implemented activities in more than 200 projects in more than 130 countries. These projects occupy 1,200 persons at present among the partners, in more than 50 projects/ regional offices. This broad presence is a testament to the resources and knowledge that ECES and partners have in relation to electoral cycle and democracy support, as funded and therefore shaped by the EU, its Member States and other European donors.
It is hoped and expected that the implementation of these projects by ECES in Ethiopia according to the EURECS strategy, will contribute positively to the very important efforts of the EU and EU member states, together with other donors and partners in Ethiopia, to the peace and democratisation processes.