EUROPEAN FOUNDATION FOR DEMOCRACY (EFD) 

Profile: EUROPEAN FOUNDATION FOR DEMOCRACY (EFD) 

1- Name of NGO:

EUROPEAN FOUNDATION FOR DEMOCRACY (EFD) 

2- Brief & Mission:

Established in 2005 by Roberta Bonazzi, a political scientist, the Brussels-based policy center known as the EFD (European Foundation for Democracy) focuses on the prevention of various forms of radicalization. The foundation operates as an independent organization that generates insightful analyses to provide policymakers, officials, and politicians with valuable information regarding radicalization. They accomplish this through organizing conferences, hosting panel debates and workshops, delivering policy briefings, engaging in advocacy efforts, and producing publications.

Based on the events they host, it becomes evident that the EFD exhibits a notable alignment with Emirati narratives concerning foreign policy, counter-radicalization efforts, security, and Iran-related matters.

3- Bias, Agenda & Motivation:

The EFD appears to have the closest ties with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), a US-based organization. Leaked emails from Yousef Al Otaiba, the UAE’s ambassador to Washington, in 2017 revealed a close relationship between the ambassador and the FDD. The UAE frequently collaborates with the FDD, which gained prominence by dedicating significant resources to undermine the Iran deal during the Obama administration. The connections between the EFD and the FDD primarily manifest through funding arrangements.

Lorenzo Vidino, who formerly served as a senior policy advisor at EFD, has a notable connection to the UAE. Presently, he heads the George Washington University’s Program on Extremism, where he provides policy advice to the US government concerning the combatting of extremist organizations and Islamist political parties, including the Muslim Brotherhood. Leaked emails from Yousef Al Otaiba demonstrated that in 2017, Vidino had a meeting with Abdullah Bin Zayed, the UAE’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, at his residence to discuss Vidino’s research and work related to the Muslim Brotherhood.

4- Links to Governments/Political Agenda:

The agenda of this organization appears to exhibit a clear alignment with the policies of the UAE. There have been allegations that this NGO actively promotes the foreign policy objectives of the UAE.

5- Sources of Funding:

In 2009, FDD provided a direct grant of $478,829 to EFD. EFD also receives funding from Israel, UAE and other Gulf states, and possibly also from countries in the Caucasus, notably Azerbaijan.

6- Activities:

The EFD engages in collaboration with TRENDS Research and Advisory, a consultancy based in Abu Dhabi that specializes in security, defense, and counterterrorism matters. TRENDS, in turn, has a working relationship with the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation (ICSR) in London, led by Shiraz Maher. It is worth noting that Maher has been a subject of interest for the Emirati lobby due to his critical views on political Islam.

The UAE’s endeavors, which involve publications like those authored by Vidino, to equate Islamism with religious extremism influenced by the Muslim Brotherhood, have the potential to contribute to a wider anti-Islamist sentiment within European territories. Consequently, this can have negative repercussions for both Muslims and individuals who stand in solidarity with them. Vidino is a long-term target of the UAE lobby. 

7- NGO Leadership:

ROBERTA BONAZZI is the President of an NGO. DR. FRANCESCO FARINELLI is the Programme Director of EFD. 

8- Controversy:

In 2016, FDD Senior Counsellor John Hannah (also former deputy national security advisor to Vice President Dick Cheney) sent an email to Otaiba(UAE Ambassador) attaching an article claiming that the UAE and FDD were both responsible for the brief military coup in Turkey.

9- Contact Details:

  • Website:https://www.europeandemocracy.eu
  • Address:Brussels
  • Email: info@europeandemocracy.eu

10- Classification/Blacklist:

The policy center has been labeled as blacklisted because of its associations with UAE governments.

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