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

Christelle Savalle

Mellieħa, 18.03.2023


Key points:

  • For the 17th consecutive year JEF Europe is launching 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.


JEF on democracy and the rule of law


Contact information

Christelle Savall, Vice President

Young European Federalists

[email protected]