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The European University Association has urged the European Commission to be mindful of not letting the notion of protection stand in the way of dialogue between a multitude of actors, both within European societies and globally.

In EUA’s input to a European Commission public consultation on the Defence of Democracy Package, the Association highlights that Europe must develop resilience to face situations where democratic culture and structures are under internal and external pressures. While welcoming this initiative as an opportunity to take concrete steps towards protecting and strengthening democracy in the European Union, EUA’s recommendations call for the instruments used for its ­­implementation to be carefully balanced to fully empower civil society as democratic actors.

EUA’s submission further elaborates on three key points:

  • The important role played by universities in democratic societies, in particular by promoting informed citizenship and evidence-based public debates and providing spaces of creative and critical thought.
  • The academic freedom and institutional autonomy that universities need. For the defence of European democracy to be effective, it must safeguard and strengthen rights such as academic freedom against interference from a wider range of forces, including governments that aim to silence critical voices and different points of view.
  • That the established risk-based approach from the Global approach to research and innovation should continue with the Defence of Democracy Package, retaining the principle of ‘open by default’ in international academic cooperation. This will allow Europe and its universities to avoid foreign interference while staying open to the world.

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