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.