Skip to main content

European Democrat Union, 1978-2001


  • How to


  • Creation: 1978-2001

Language of Materials

  • English

Biographical / Historical

The European Democrat Union (EDU) was founded on 24 April 1978 as 'an instrument for advanced cooperation between non-socialist parties in Western Europe'. The leaders of 18 European parties, including Margaret Thatcher, Helmut Kohl and Jacques Chirac signed the founding declaration, known as the Klessheim Declaration. This outlined the EDU's various objectives, including a rejection of totalitarianism, a belief in a socially-oriented market economy, the protection of basic personal freedoms and human rights as enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights, and a commitment to 'ensure that Europe does not turn inwards on itself but uses its influence, achievements, and above all its political values for the greater food of the world'.

The main operations of the EDU were managed by the Steering Committee, a body composed of the Secretary Generals and/or International Secretaries of the EDU's member parties. The Committee would meet three times a year and oversaw all organisational questions, policy proposals and financial matters. Once a year, the Party Leaders of its members parties would convene at the Party Leaders' Conference where policy programmes would be adopted, membership applications would be considered, and a Chairman and Vice-Chairmen would be elected. The Party Leaders were also responsible for establishing the various working committees of the EDU, which would then prepare research and policy recommendations for presentation at the next Conference. The EDU would also regularly send delegations on fact-finding missions to new or emerging democracies.

By the early 1980s, the EDU's influence had begun to extend to Australia, New Zealand and Japan, and it was therefore felt that an international body with the same objectives should be established. The EDU now forms one of the regional groups of that international body, the International Democrat Union (see COB 7/11).

Related Materials

For papers concerning the foundation of the EDU, see the papers of the European Inter-Party Consultation (COB 7/6).

Repository Details

Part of the Bodleian Libraries Repository

Weston Library
Broad Street
Oxford OX1 3BG United Kingdom