All over Europe, authoritarian populists are on the rise. It is becoming more common for governments to silence criticism by attacking the courts, taking over public media and intimidating rights groups. Democracy cannot survive without strong and healthy organisations fighting to protect civil liberties and the rule of law. These groups are coming under greater pressure as governments remove or block their funding, subject them to smear campaigns and drain their resources by drowning them in bureaucracy. The situation is particularly serious in some countries, like Romania, Hungary, Poland, Italy and Ireland.
The EU is negotiating its next seven-year budget. So now is the time for the EU to invest in keeping democracy and freedoms alive in Europe. The European Commission is in charge of creating the spending plan, which will then be agreed on by EU governments and the European Parliament. Liberties has called on the European Commission to create a new freedoms fund to support rights and democracy groups in Europe: the European Values Instrument. Recently, the European Parliament overwhelmingly endorsed our idea and also called on the Commission to create this new fund.
The Commission will publish its new spending plans in the coming weeks and has promised more help for rights groups in the form of a ‘Justice, Rights and Values’ programme. But the Commission has refused to support the European Parliament’s suggestion for a European Values Fund. And indications are that the Commission will just make small changes to existing rules, which won’t be enough to rescue our democracies from increasing attack. You have until 30th May to send the Commission a message: create the European Values Instrument and save democracy.
If you have visited us recently, you may have noticed that we have changed the target of our email campaign. Previously, we were sending the emails to the President of the Council, Donald Tusk. Recently we received new information that the European Commission may ignore the European Parliament’s request for the European Values Instrument. So now we are directing our model email at the European Commission.