Democracy under Pressure 2023: JEF Europe builds a European chain of democracy

Mellieħa, 16.03.2023


JEF is launching the 18th edition of the pan-European campaign Democracy under Pressure. The kickoff event will happen on Malta on 17 March 2023 at 7pm CET and will be centered around the personal stories of young activists from Russia, Greece, Hungary and Bulgaria. We will have the opportunity to interact with a pan-European audience in person and online on JEF Europe Youtube channel. Please let us know if you are interested to ask questions to the activists or knowing more about the campaign. Here follows the official press release of the campaign:


Key points:

– JEF Europe is launching the 18th edition of its “Democracy under Pressure” campaign that will run between 18 – 25 March 2023.

– While democracy has been under pressure across the European continent for decades, now, in Ukraine, democracy is under attack.

– It is time for a democratic federation that can effectively guarantee peace, democracy, and fundamental rights of all its citizens without further compromises.


The enemies of peace and democracy are not resting and neither shall we. With our campaign Democracy under Pressure, JEF builds the European chain of democracy to oppose those who want to enchain Ukraine, our values, and fundamental rights“, says Christelle Savall, Vice President of JEF Europe.


Every year, our Democracy under Pressure campaign calls on citizens to raise public awareness of threats to rule of law and democracy, denounce all forms of authoritarianism, and show solidarity with freedom advocates all over Europe.

Like citizens in 1989 did with the Baltic chain, our volunteers and partners form a European chain of democracy across the continent. From our Twitter chat on Democracy under Pressure to our series of online talks, our members and partners share personal stories of oppression and their continued strive for democracy in Ukraine, Russia, Moldova, Greece or Hungary. The Action Week is the culmination of our campaign, but our daily fight for democracy is tireless.


Democracy under Pressure started in 2006 as a Free Belarus action to raise awareness about the Lukashenka regime, often considered “the last dictatorship in Europe”. In recent years however, existing dictatorships have strengthened their grip over citizens, and numerous stains have appeared even on the fabrics of ‘stable’ democracies. 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 we are promoting today. Since last year, we are reminded of the consequences of authoritarian regimes left unchecked: a full scale attack on Ukraine and with it a full scale attack on all European democracies. Democracy is under Attack.


Peace and democracy feed each other and the EU peace project cannot stop at its current borders. Democracy is the freedom to choose. Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, like the Western Balkans, chose Europe, so it is up to us to welcome them. In parallel, deep reform is needed on the EU side to make sure the respect for European values is truly woven into the fabric of the EU. As the Qatargate is the last reminder, constant care is needed for democracy to flourish, be it internally or in Member States.


“While positive, we need to go beyond the rule of law conditionality mechanism, free ourselves from intergovernmentalism and introduce the democratic federation the citizens have called for during the Conference on the Future of Europe. One that can effectively guarantee peace, democracy, and fundamental rights of all its people without further compromises”, continues Savall.


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. Join the chain of democracy: take to the streets with JEFers in one of the European cities and online 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 35 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.

Since 2006, JEF Europe has organised an annual “Free Belarus” action to draw attention across Europe to the authoritarian regime of Aleksander Lukashenka, commonly referred to as Europe’s last dictator. There has been democratic backsliding across the continent since then, and so JEF’s Free Belarus action broadened into the campaign ‘Democracy under Pressure’ in which JEF Europe calls out abuses of human rights and the rule of law.


Contact information




Christelle Savall
Vice President
Young European Federalists