European Foundation for Democracy

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European Foundation for Democracy
TypeAssociation without lucrative purpose[1]
Registration no.70156146692-35[1]
Roberta Bonazzi[1]
Person in charge of EU relations
Roberta Bonazzi[1]
Budget (2018)

The European Foundation for Democracy (EFD) is a policy centre and a registered EU lobbyist organization based in Brussels, Belgium.[1] Its activities focus on counter-radicalisation, security and the promotion of the European values of democracy and individual freedoms. Its experts produce analyses and publications concerning the various threats coming from extremist ideologies, recommending measures and policies to counter these phenomena.[citation needed]

EFD's political stance has been described as neoconservative and Islamophobic.[2]:37[3]:130–132

EFD also organises public events,[2] policy briefings[4][5] and roundtable discussions where relevant experts debate specific challenges posed by extremist forces, in order to stimulate the debate and provide the policy community with recommendations on how to tackle such threats.


EFD was founded in November 2005.[2]:37 Documents registering EFD at Federal Public Service Justice date 24 May 2006.[6]:193 Its co-founders were Roberta Bonazzi, Nicola Dell’Arciprete and Miguel Papi Boucher. Dell’Arciprete previously worked on staff of an Italian MEP from far-right Lega Nord, during which he participated in a tour hosted by Ateret Cohanim.[6]:191 On 15 September 2011, the organization was officially registered as an organization that works to influence the lawmaking process of the EU institutions.[1]

Activities and political stance[edit]

Scholar Farid Hafez maintains that the EFD hails from a politically conservative milieu, and its "fellows are located in the corridors of power", adding that "[t]heir experts produce knowledge for highly subsidized state institutions".[3]:130 Georgetown University's Bridge Initiative profile of EFD, states that the organization has a "privileged access to financial resources and political decision making".[7]

The EFD has campaigned on issues that echo policies advocated by the establishment in Israel, and it has been described as a pro-Israel group.[2]:38 The EFD's president denies allegations of being pro-Israel, saying "We try to not get involved in the Israel-Palestine issue.... We don't feel able to add anything. We don't think we can do it well."[2]:37

EFD is an advocate of adding Hezbollah of Lebanon to the European Union's list of terrorist organizations,[2]:37 and has proposed a ban on television networks Al-Manar and Al-Aqsa TV by the EU.[6]:191 It has hosted events calling for a tougher action against Iran for its nuclear programme.[2]:38

Allegations of Islamophobia[edit]

Multiple scholars have wrote that the EFD is an Islamophobic organization,[7] including David Cronin, Sarah Marusek and David Miller, who state that the organization is "closely associated with a transatlantic network of neoconservative and Islamophobic activists";[2]:37 Narzanin Massoumi, Tom Mills and Miller who comment that the organization is "promoting a range of issues that include Islamophobia",[6]:190 and Farid Hafez. Hafez has conducted a case study on activities of the EFD in Austria[3]:125–128 and Sweden,[3]:128–130 in particular works published by the organization to put Austrian Muslim Youth (Muslimische Jugend Österreich) and Young Muslims of Sweden (Sveriges Unga Muslimer) under government pressure by falsely linking them to Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt. He concludes that EFD systematically produces works that follow a strategy of defamation and delegitimization of actors of the civil society of Muslims in Europe, by identifying them as radical and Islamist.[3]:130–132


EFD is described as a "capital darling", i.e. a NGO which is based on capital,[8] as well as an organization that enjoys support from several wealthy donors.[3]:130

It has received substantial contributions from the United States government, for example out of EFD's declared €520,000 budget between January and September 2012, Some €70,000 was from Department of State.[2]:38

In 2009, Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) provided a direct grant of $478,829 to EFD.[2]:38

In addition, 'Friends of the European Foundation for Democracy' (Friends of EFD), a Washington D.C.-based tax-exempt organization is dedicated to raise funds for the EFD, which summed a total of $2,688,500 between 2011 and 2013.[2]:38

Known co-funders of the Friends of EFD, and the amount of money they donated to the organization from 2009 to 2013 is as follows:

  • Bodman Foundation ($50,000)[2]:39
  • Hochberg Family Foundation ($50,000)[2]:39
  • Marcus Foundation ($800,000)[2]:39
  • Foundations affiliated to Paul Singer ($1,000,000)[2]:39

The Transparency Register data of EFD for 2018 fiscal year, declared zero funding received from national sources and local/regional sources, listing all of its budget coming from other sources.[1]

Ties to the Foundation for Defense of Democracies[edit]

EFD maintains organizational as well as financial ties to the U.S.-based Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD).[3]:120 The official website of FDD, as of 2007, stated that it works in a "partnership" with the EFD.[9] Scholars Narzanin Massoumi, Tom Mills and David Miller argue that EFD actually "originates" from FDD, calling it the latter's "EU offshoot" and categorizing it among the "European-based neocon outfits... set up by US parent organisations".[6]:22 Bridge Initiative of Georgetown University identifies FDD and EFD as organizations linked to each other through numerous persons and institutions.[7] The two also share the same major donors.[2]:39[3]:120

Roberta Bonazzi, the EFD's director said in 2014 that FDD and EFD are "two completely separate organisations, financially and legally separate"; however after being asked about US documents about a financial relationship between the two, replied: "that is because most of our fundraising is done in the US. [The FDD was] our contact. Grants were sent to them and then to us."[2]:38


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Transparency Register: European Foundation for Democracy, European Union website, 13 February 2020, archived from the original on 13 April 2020, retrieved 1 April 2020
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r Cronin, David; Marusek, Sarah; Miller, David (2016), The Israel Lobby and the European Union (PDF), Glasgow: Public Interest Investigations, ISBN 978-0-9570274-7-3 – via University of Bath
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Hafez, Farid (2018), "Muslim Civil Society Under Attack: The European Foundation for Democracy's Role in Defaming and Delegitimizing Muslim Civil Society", in Esposito, John L.; Iner, Derya (eds.), Islamophobia and Radicalization: Breeding Intolerance and Violence, Springer, doi:10.1007/978-3-319-95237-6_7, ISBN 978-3-319-95237-6
  4. ^ "Social media platforms have 'crucial role to play in combating extremist rhetoric'". EU Reporter. Retrieved 2016-01-19.
  5. ^ "Leading author calls for 'attack on all fronts' against Islamic fundamentalism". EU Reporter. Retrieved 2016-01-19.
  6. ^ a b c d e Massoumi, Narzanin; Mills, Tom; Miller, David (2017), "Islamophobia, Social Movements and the State: For a Movement-centred Approach", What is Islamophobia?, Pluto Press, ISBN 978-1-7868-0068-8
  7. ^ a b c "Factsheet: European Foundation for Democracy", The Bridge Initiative, Georgetown University, 5 December 2019, archived from the original on 13 April 2020, retrieved 1 April 2020
  8. ^ Ishkanian, Armine (2008), Democracy Building and Civil Society in Post-Soviet Armenia, Routledge, p. 27, ISBN 9781134076765
  9. ^ Smith, Tony (2007), A Pact with the Devil: Washington's Bid for World Supremacy and the Betrayal of the American Promise, Routledge, p. xxviii, ISBN 978-0-415-95245-3

External links[edit]