The European Parliament today called for the European Commission finally to come forward for proposals for an EU mechanism on democracy, the rule of law, and fundamental rights. The call came as part of a report on protecting the rule of law and tackling corruption in the EU.
“In the last two years we have seen Article 7 procedures started against two member states: Hungary and Poland. These are just two of the most serious examples of the threat to the rule of law in the EU. We have been calling for an EU mechanism on democracy, the rule of law, and fundamental rights for years. We clearly need an objective way to monitor the situation in every member state and make sure that issues are addressed at an early stage,” said S&D Group vice-president responsible for the report, Josef Weidenholzer.
“Investigative journalists are increasingly being harassed in Europe and two have even been murdered for their work. These people play a vital role in our societies, exposing wrong doing and ensuring those in power are accountable. Our Group has pushed the EU to do more to protect journalists and ensure that they can work free from threats and intimidation. The fight for democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights will be one of the major issues in the Parliament’s next mandate. Sending ad-hoc delegations from the civil liberties, justice and home affairs committee can be an important tool to monitor the situation on the ground and send a clear message that Europe will act when fundamental rights are at stake in any EU country,” Weidenholzer concluded.
“National leaders like to talk about their commitment to democracy and the rule of law but when they have the chance to do something about it they fail to do so. We urge national governments to stop blocking progress on Article 7 procedures against the Hungarian and Polish governments. The EU needs to show it can act when basic tenants of EU membership are under threat in a member state,” added S&D spokesperson for civil liberties, justice and home affairs Birgit Sippel.
“We are disappointed that while MEPs from the centre-right EPP attempted to block any reference to the Hungarian and Polish governments in this report. These two governments are the ones facing procedures for consistent and systemic threats to the rule of law, not mentioning them shows the EPP group is more focused on scoring political points than actually protecting the core EU values,” said Sippel.