Great debates between youth from 15 countries took place in Debating Threats to Democracy events!

Debating Threats to Democracy is an international project which aimed to promote and encourage critical thinking and discussions on the current and future possible issues to democratic societies. IDEA NL and 14 members and partners in the European Union implemented. The entire consortium believes that debating activities and intercultural communication can foster a deeper understanding of the root causes of the problems which are threatening human rights and democracy. The program can be further followed on Here you find interesting reports about the international and national activities, motions that were used which can be used in classes of clubs as well as the national and European policy papers. You can also find educational material here.

The program generated fantastic impact among young people who improved their critical thinking and other important 21st century skills. They gained in self esteem to debate to exchange with other young people in an international or national debate event about topics in relation to Threats to Democracy such as 'Fair Elections', 'Rights of Minorities', 'Upcoming extreme right parties' or 'Xenophobia'.

This all became possible thanks to the great and competent cooperation between the members in the consortium and thanks to the support of the donor Europe for Citizens. Read the report to  Europe for Citizens  here.

See some facts about the impact here:

5196 (young) citizens debated about ‘Threats to Democracy’ and how to solve it in their country and in EU

This Debate Education Program is designed for Secondary School Students to help raise awareness about democracy in their own countries and in the EU as a whole. 4976 young people and adults in 15 countries have debated what the threats to democracy are in their countries and in the European Union in 2016 and 2017. We kicked off with a partner meeting in January 2016 to organize the program, design the coordination and create a joint spirit and common understanding of the goals and activities.

49 national debate events, workshops, competitions about Threats to Democracy in 45 cities and 15 EU countries

The partners engaged the young participants in national debate competitions or public debates and in total reached out to more than 4500 youth and teachers in 15 countries in 2016 and 2017.

2 international events in Lithuania and Bratislava for 2x150 people

The young participants wrote also 15 national policy briefs about their main threats and 1 EU policy brief

They wrote those policy briefs in 2016 to be prepared for the international exchange in Lithuania.

First international event in Lithuania

 This four day international DTTD event took place in Lithuania from August 18- 22, 2016, hosted by our Lithuania member Educational Debate Centre (EDC). The first international event in Druskininkai, Lithuania was attended by 150 citizens of Europe, the majority below 30 years old. It created a fantastic opportunity to cooperate with a group of about 25 excellent trainers in debate, friendship, human rights, public speaking. This contributed to a positive pedagogic and intercultural process and the basis was developed for an enthusiastic and capable pool of European coaches and trainers also for the second international event in Bratislava. This Lithuania international event also offered the youth an international, experience to exchange ideas with youth from different countries about democracy, human rights and peace. It also offered them great intercultural experience learning from different youth that are growing up in Europe. We were especially happy that the Greece Refugees Council and refugees from Slovakia and Greece participated in this event because they generated a lot of understanding, stories, ideas and debates about position of refugees in Europe.

Three European Policy debated in the Lithuanian House of Parliament and in the European Parliament

The Lithuania event resulted into three overarching European Policy papers with joint ideas about how the European Union can narrow the gaps between (young) people. Those ideas were debated in the Lithuania House of Parliament and presented to Arnoldus Pranckevicius, the direct assistant to Mr. Schulz, chair of the European Parliament. Three youth were selected to pitch the European Policy Paper topics in the European Parliament around the Day of the Child. And they did fantastic. 

More spin off after the Lithuania international event

After this international event the participants organized public debates and school debate events to share their ideas and new knowledge with their peers and to stimulate them to debate about their overarching European policy brief. A Facebook page where some key participants post ideas and motions has been created and regularly maintained, short films were made and a lot of different spin off.

Final Debating Threats to Democracy international event in Bratislava

We closed Debating Threats to Democracy, with a final DTTD international event in Bratislava, from 26-30 March 2017. Here 151 youth and adults deepened their understanding about EU wide topics, improved their debating skills, but were also able to exchange views on certain topics and to aggregate national analysis to EU level. As the previous event, it facilitated more than 150 participants from 15 EU countries and is the final international event of the project. The event itself was hosted by the Slovak Debate Association and IDEA NL. As this was the final event of the project, it concluded in an atmosphere filled with memorabilia exchanges, on a festive note and with a lot of shared friendships. 

The event itself was divided into two parts, namely content-based for the threats to democracy that were perceived and debate-focused. During the first part of the event, there was a wide range of topics from immigration, democracy and liberty, systems of governments, human rights, inequality, terrorism, European integration, populism, to civil movements and advocacy. Trainees had the chance to participate in a range of workshops conducted by three guest speakers: Katarina Klingova (GLOBSEC Policy Institute), Tomas Grecko and Zuzana Hanzelova (Slovak State Television). The second block of the event focused on debate and learning about argumentation, refutation, questioning, but also fake new, adaptation of language and persuasive delivery. The event was closed with an intercultural banquet and a culture market where all countries presented their specialities and exchanged pictures and addresses to remember each other back home.

 Project Partners

IDEA provided me with tools, resources and basics for my debate competition. It helped me get some good counter points to attack my opposition. Thanks to IDEA resources I was able to get additional arguments and pints and more realistic examples.

Rishab Kumar Debater