The S&D Group in the European Parliament is urging all MEPs to support the people of Bulgaria who have been taking to the streets for several months with legitimate demands for an independent justice system, transparency, the rule of law and democracy.
Today MEPs will vote on a resolution that describes the deteriorating state of the rule of law and fundamental rights in Bulgaria and that calls for solidarity with Bulgarian citizens’ demands.
Juan Fernando López Aguilar, S&D Chair of the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee, said:
“Press freedom is an essential ingredient for a healthy democracy. For the third year in a row, Bulgaria is 111th on the World Press Freedom Index, by far the worst ranking for any EU country. In Bulgaria, we are also witnessing a worrying a lack of accountability in the judicial system and a Bulgarian Parliament that is repeatedly neglecting its role in the checks and balances of a government mired in allegations of corruption. The combination of these ingredients is forming a toxic cocktail where public trust is very low and people are regularly taking to the streets.
With this resolution we want to shed a light on the deteriorating state of the rule of law and fundamental rights in Bulgaria. We are speaking out for the seven million citizens Bulgaria, just as we do for ten million Hungarian citizens and for forty million Polish citizens, because we are all European citizens. We are doing this for the people of Bulgaria, who we stand with in their fight for justice, accountability and democracy.
We sincerely hope MEPs in the European People’s Party will not abandon the people of Bulgaria, but instead join us in sending a strong message of solidarity and support.”
Katarina Barley, S&D rapporteur on Bulgaria, said:
“People have been taking to the streets in Bulgaria for 3 months now. People are unhappy with corruption, the lack of separation of powers and the lack of freedom of the press in the country. 80% of Bulgarian people consider corruption to be widespread in Bulgaria, while journalists describe extensive political interference in the media. There are systemic problems in Bulgaria’s judicial system that have been highlighted by the European Court of Human Rights and the Venice Commission, such as the office of the Attorney General being able to act without any accountability whatsoever.
This vote is a message to Bulgarian people and civil society: we support your demands. The Commission must do everything it can, using all the tools at its disposal, to ensure the Bulgarian government complies with fundamental European values. We also have a message for the EPP Group: you have a political responsibility to act when democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights are under threat. Wake up to what the Bulgarian government is doing at the expense of its own, and all, EU citizens."