The Commission's Package focuses on three main issues: preventing the influence of foreign actors on democratic processes and institutions, preserving the integrity of elections, and enabling effective participation of citizens and civil society.
But how serious is the danger posed by foreign influence to democracies in Europe? Many non-governmental organisations, for instance, have already been discussing how to ensure transparency and control of foreign money flows without undermining our liberal system of values and weakening civil society actors.
"When, if not now: Protecting and strengthening European democracy" - under this title, the participants discussed what is needed to make European democracy more resilient to negative internal and external influences. Democracies must be defended yet at the same time remain open to changes such as new forms of participation.
The Commission Vice President Jourová unpacked concrete measures of the package. Targeted influence from third countries is an increasing problem, the seriousness of which must be acknowledged and exposed. However, the initiative should not affect existing national regulations on lobbying but rather used as a complementary transparency instrument. For the representatives of civil society organisations, in turn, it is crucial to ensure that the new regulations are not utilised to restrict their work in individual member states.
The project "New Democracy: Protecting and Rethinking Democracy" will address the questions raised during the round table in the coming years. We need to protect democracy and our open society more actively than in the past, but at the same time we need to remain open to changes in our democratic systems.