Leading S&D MEPs have called for progressive forces to come together to fight back against the anti-democratic forces attacking European democracies and free societies.

The call came during a Europe Together event on Thursday evening in Vienna, the first in a month long a series of debates and meetings with European citizens on democracy and the rule of law. Events will take place in Austria, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary and end on November 22 in Copenhagen, the city where the European Union established the criteria for democracy, freedoms and human rights 25 years ago.

“Democracy in Europe is under attack.  Fascists, nationalists and populists want to destroy the democratic achievements of the last century. In Hungary and Poland, the right-wing governments are attacking the pillars of a functioning democracy, with the independent judiciary, a free press and NGOs all being targeted. Also, in Austria the freedom of press is being attacked by the FPÖ. The efforts to destroy democracy are not confined to Europe but are part of a broader strategy. The United States is also affected by the same wind of change,” said S&D Group president Udo Bullmann and vice-president responsible for civil liberties, justice, and home affairs Josef Weidenholzer

“Europe has now become the main battleground where democrats and their enemies fight each other. Anti-democratic forces make their way here from the US and Russia to interfere in our elections and are ready to spend money and invest resources to spread their evil. Right-wing populists like Steve Bannon want to wipe out European democracy because they know that Europe is among the last beacons of hope for democracy. Against this attack, democrats must fight back.  We must now reaffirm these values, prevent the spread of intolerance and sanction those countries and movements that seek to destroy democracy. In particular, we call on the youngest generation, on students, and on young workers to stand up together in this battle. If we don’t react, not only will our democratic institutions be undermined but also the way we live: we will not be able to travel freely any more in Europe, we will not be able to access free and independent media, to choose which book we want to read or which partner we love, for which ideal we want to fight. Someone else will decide our lives for us. In other terms, we will no longer be free,” they added.