Based on inter­views con­duct­ed with EU offi­cials, Dr Luuk Molthof pro­vides insights into how EU pol­i­cy actors eval­u­ate the state of open soci­eties in Europe, what they per­ceive as the key chal­lenges and what they regard as the best strate­gies for pro­tect­ing civ­il rights and liberties.

The inter­views reveal that many EU offi­cials are strong­ly com­mit­ted to the basic pil­lars of an open soci­ety, with most of them regard­ing such prin­ci­ples as free­dom of expres­sion, free­dom of reli­gion and minor­i­ty rights as invi­o­lable. A major­i­ty of EU offi­cials, how­ev­er, also under­stood that not all Euro­peans share their (degree of) com­mit­ment and that sup­port for an open soci­ety comes in dif­fer­ent gra­da­tions . They fur­ther under­stood that a sig­nif­i­cant group of Euro­peans do not auto­mat­i­cal­ly pri­ori­tise demo­c­ra­t­ic free­doms and rights above eco­nom­ic well­be­ing and phys­i­cal security.

Based on this aware­ness, many of the inter­vie­wees have strong views on how to strength­en demo­c­ra­t­ic atti­tudes and reach those Euro­peans who feel there is a trade-off between open­ness and (eco­nom­ic and phys­i­cal) secu­ri­ty. By pro­vid­ing these and oth­er inter­est­ing take­aways for Euro­pean politi­cians, civ­il ser­vants and civ­il soci­ety lead­ers, the report seeks to con­tribute to debates on the future of open soci­eties in Europe and ways to pro­tect them.