The last decades have come with considerable challenges for the world and Europe. They are of a various nature, ranging from climate change to the COVID-19 pandemic. Particularly noteworthy are recent trends of democratic backsliding, authoritarian shifts and populist sways, exacerbated by problematic use of social media, which can be observed around the globe, even at the heart of some of the most ambitious projects of cooperation, solidarity and liberty, such as Europe.
Fundamental rights, democracy, the rule of law, ethics and values are the foundations and linchpin of the European project, as well as
of the notion of an international order that is not premised on grave inequalities and exploitation. They provide legitimacy to the
solutions that Europe and the world develop for the problems they face. Yet, at this key juncture, respect for human rights, fundamental values and democratic principles is at risk, even at the heart of the European project itself. As President von der Leyen has remarked and is summarised in her work programme, “Upholding a strong and vibrant democracy in Europe is a question of legitimacy and trust. Democracy is a core value of our Union, together with fundamental rights and the rule of law. However, European democracy faces multiple challenges, both from outside and from within.”