Press release | Democracy is under attack: JEF launches its “Democracy under Pressure” 2022 campaign

Key points:

  • For the 16th consecutive year JEF Europe is launching its “Democracy under Pressure” campaign that will run between 18 – 25 March 2022. 
  • While democracy has been under pressure across the European continent for many years, now, in Ukraine, democracy is under attack. 
  • Current developments show that we cannot turn a blind eye to the resurgence of authoritarianism in Europe nor take democracy for granted. European citizens and institutions must take on the fight for peace, democracy and our fundamental values at home and abroad. 

“Last year we were saddened by the need for a 15th edition of our campaign.  This year we are angry because democracy is not only under pressure – it’s under direct attack from authoritarian regimes. Democracy under Pressure is not just a campaign, but a commitment. Year after year for as long as needed, JEF will speak for those who are silenced, as we have been since 2006” says Christelle Savall, Vice President of JEF Europe.  

Every year, the Democracy under Pressure campaign calls on citizens to raise public awareness of current threats to rule of law and democracy, denounce all forms of authoritarianism, and show solidarity with those at the frontlines of the fight for freedom.

Over the past weeks, we joined forces with organisations and activists from across the political spectrum to denounce the increasingly violent authoritarian regimes in Russia and Belarus and their aggression on Ukraine. This year again we have been joined by the Council of European Municipalities. Together with EURACTIV we are organising a Twitter chat on Democracy under Pressure and Europe’s role in the world. In a series of online talks, our members and partners are discussing democratic challenges in Hungary, Ukraine and Belarus. Now with the Action Week the campaign culminates, but our fight for democracy is tireless. 

The campaign started in 2006 as the “Free Belarus” action to raise awareness about the Lukashenka regime, often considered “the last dictatorship in Europe”. However, in the last decade, European values have been increasingly compromised by illiberalism, populism and xenophobia across governments and societies in Europe. As we believe an attack on the Rule of Law in one country is an attack on our own, the action was rebranded in 2014 as the campaign that we are promoting today. This year, we are reminded of the consequences of authoritarian regimes: the attack on Ukraine is an attack on all European democracies. 

There can be no peace without democracy and no democracy without peace. The European Union is, at its core, a peace project. This peace should also extend beyond the EU’s Eastern border. If the European project rose from the ashes of war, its next great reform must rise from current events. It should not have taken the tragedy of war for the Union to realise we need a Europe that protects, and includes all countries sharing our values. Democracy represents the freedom to choose. Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova chose Europe: now we must also choose and welcome them. It is time for a democratic federation that can effectively guarantee peace, democracy, and fundamental rights of all its citizens without further compromises. 

JEF Europe calls on citizens to speak up for those who are silenced. Now is the time to defend and advocate for peace, democracy and rule of law in Europe. Never before has so much been at stake as this year. Join our street and online actions in one of the European cities between 18-25 March and raise awareness on social media by using the hashtag #DemocracyUnderPressure.


About JEF Europe
The Young European Federalists (JEF) Europe is a non-partisan youth NGO with 10,000  members active in over 30 countries. The organisation strives towards a federal Europe based on the principles of democracy and subsidiarity as well as respect for human rights. JEF promotes true European Citizenship, and works towards more active participation of young people in democratic life. While the umbrella organisation JEF Europe was founded in 1972, its sections have been operating continuously since the end of the Second World War, making it the oldest pro-European and only federalist youth organisation.


JEF on democracy and the rule of law

Christelle Savall, Vice President

Young European Federalists