Emergency measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 have taken a heavy toll on Europe’s civil society. Although mostly justifiable and necessary to save lives, these measures should never offer a carte blanche to governments to turn what was initially an urgent response into the permanent demise of the rule of law. So finds a recent EESC hearing.
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Statement by José Antonio Moreno Díaz, President of the Group on Fundamental Rights and the Rule of Law (FRRL) and Jukka Ahtela, Vice-president of the Group on Fundamental Rights and the Rule of Law
The EESC says threats to the rule of law and fundamental rights and the shrinking space for civil society, as described in its report based on visits to several EU countries, may be further exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis
The response to the COVID-19 crisis has had a negative impact on a number of fundamental rights. The unavoidable lockdowns have restricted our freedom of movement and cross-border travel. Freedom of association and assembly have been cut, so have privacy rights through data tracking systems. What has been put in place as a temporary measure cannot be instrumentalised to revert decades-long fights for freedoms and equality. We must get out of this crisis with our democracies – and our European Union – intact.
The son of the Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, who was killed in 2017 while reporting on government corruption, addressed the December plenary session of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) and said that a European rule of law monitoring mechanism could help defend journalism against all forms of pressure.
The Grassroots view, the new podcast series launched by the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), explores the hot topics everyone seems to be debating these days, but it does so from a civil society perspective, bringing testimonies from actors on the ground and accounts from EESC members who represent their interests in Brussels. Link to the podcast
Building on its newly published report on the rule-of-law situation in Europe, the EESC conference calls for a mature and structured dialogue between governments and civil society to reverse backsliding on the rule of law in the EU
The EU should amplify the voice of those standing up for rights and freedoms and involve them more closely in its work to safeguard the rule of law
An EESC visit to Poland finds the country increasingly divided and its civil society hampered in the exercise of fundamental freedoms
The situation in some Member States has led us to create a strategy for defending the Rule of Law, human rights and the concept of liberal democracy, said José Antonio Moreno Díaz, president of a new group on fundamental rights and the Rule of Law. Fact-finding missions to Poland, Hungary or Romania will be a starting point for the group, established by the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) earlier this year and which held its first meeting on 11 June in Brussels.