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REPORT: Most EU governments are neglecting their democracies, according to CSO analysis on rule of law

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Liberties released this report on 15 February 2022

In its report, Liberties points out three broad trends among EU Member States:

  • A deepening of authoritarinism: with Hungary and Poland leading the way and Slovenia not far behind, authoritarian regimes are gaining ground with EU deterring efforts having little effect.
  • A neglect of democracy: issues related to justice systems, the state of the media, the environment for activism, corruption and systemic human rights problems have worsened in the majority of Member States.
  • Improvements remain the exception and happen in a limited and sporadic way.

Specifically, the report highlights that civic space and CSOs are under attack. First, the report finds that verbal and physical attacks, as well as hate crimes, have increased against minorities. Additionally, legal harassment and smear campaigns against CSOs are also on a rise, especially against organisations defending the rights of minorities and vulnerable groups. Second, the report noted an increase in the use of restrictive regulations to weaken, control or limit the activities of CSOs in many countries, including those with strong democratic traditions. Thrid, it is becoming harder for CSOs to access equitable funding and they are increasingly excluded from public consultation in the law-making process across the EU. Finally, in several countries, laws and practices protecting the right to protest are either inadequate or outright repressive.

The report also highlights some recommendations addressed to the European Commission:

  • To trigger litigation and the rule of law conditionality mechanism;
  • To include analysis of systemic fundamental rights violations in its report;
  • To improve legal protection and financial support for civil society organisations to help them overcome attacks.