The Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament today published a recovery plan for democracy and fundamental rights. As the world has worked to slow the spread of the pandemic through restrictive social measures, the S&D Group believes that we need to look closely at how these actions have impacted on people’s rights, including the most vulnerable in society. The S&D is demanding that any emergency measures responding to the crisis are removed as soon as is safely possible.
Iratxe García, S&D Group President said:
With its consequences for public health, jobs and the economy, the Covid-19 outbreak has pushed us all to our limits. But the pandemic is no excuse for ripping up the rulebook on democracy and fundamental rights.
The values that define Europe: freedom, democracy, equality, human dignity, the rule of law and fundamental rights does not need to be quarantined to fight the virus. If the Commission and the Council turn a blind eye to the actions of any government that harm these values, the Treaties that guarantee our freedoms are not worth the paper they are written on.
We must make sure that EU law is respected; freedom of movement restored, that the principles of democracy and rule of law is upheld, that people can enjoy their right to privacy and data protection, and that people seeking international protection are guaranteed help when it is needed.
Birgit Sippel, S&D spokesperson on civil liberties, justice and home affairs, said:
Before the Covid-19 pandemic, democracy was already under threat in some countries. Since the outbreak, democracy has been pushed to crisis point in these countries.
The responses by governments in Hungary and Poland, but also elsewhere, have not been compatible with fundamental rights. Reactions from the Orbán administration or the PiS government had little to do with fighting the virus, but instead pursued the goal of expanding their powers and restricting the rights of the opposition. These extreme and oppressive reactions have given even more urgency to the need for an EU mechanism on democracy, rule of law and fundamental rights, which the S&D group has been calling for for years. For this to be an effective tool, there needs to be proper sanctions that makes it possible to suspend EU funds.
We want to see any existing emergency measures, whether they affect people’s privacy, create internal borders between states or prevent people from seeking asylum and protection on our continent, removed as soon as is safely possible. There will be changes in society in the aftermath of this crisis, but we will not accept changes that harm our fundamental rights!