European Law Monitor

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MEPS warn of deteriorating fundamental rights in the EU

  • Vulnerable groups, freedom of expression, media pluralism and freedom of assembly under attack
  • “Organised backlash” against gender equality and women’s rights
  • Hate speech and different forms of racism are becoming normalised
  • Critical need for an EU mechanism on democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights

On Thursday, Parliament adopted its 2018-2019 report on the state of fundamental rights in the EU, identifying multiple areas of concern.

MEPs strongly condemn the efforts in some member states to weaken the separation of powers and the independence of the judiciary and reiterate the critical need for an EU mechanism on democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights. They point to attacks on media freedom, independence and pluralism, highlighting the democratic role of journalists and whistle-blowers. They also call on member states to refrain from adopting laws that restrict the freedom of assembly, and to put an end to disproportionate and violent interventions by law enforcement authorities.

Protection for disadvantaged people

Vulnerable groups (particularly women, people with disabilities, the elderly, children, migrants, Roma, Travellers and LGBTI+ people), have been disproportionately affected by cuts in government spending, MEPs say, and call for policies that take into account human, economic and social rights. They also draw attention to the importance of a just environmental transition, protecting young people priced out of housing, and to children in poverty.

The report condemns the “organised backlash” against gender equality and women’s rights, including sexual and reproductive health and rights, stressing the right to modern contraceptive methods and safe and legal abortions. It also strongly condemns the alarming rate of femicide in the EU and the segregation of Roma women in maternal health care, calling for this discriminatory practice to be banned immediately, as well as for remedies for the victims of forced sterilisation.

Parliament expresses grave concern over reports that asylum seekers are facing violent pushbacks and over the humanitarian situation in hotspots. Intimidation, arrests and criminal proceedings against organisations and individuals for providing humanitarian assistance must end. Humanitarian corridors and humanitarian visa programmes must be set up.

Tackling extremism

MEPs warn that hate speech and different forms of racism are becoming normalised, not only by extremists but also by certain government representatives or political leaders, and call for an effective ban on neo-fascist and neo-Nazi groups. They also condemn all attacks on Christians, and call for their equal treatment in Europe and worldwide, following attacks at places of Christian worship.

Further, Parliament:

  • underlines the link between organised crime, corruption and freedom of expression, detention facilities, social rights access and human trafficking;
  • is concerned about the shrinking space of civil society;
  • underlines the risks associated with the use of Artificial Intelligence and data processing for behavioural manipulation; and
  • highlights prison conditions, calling for common EU standards in line with international law.

The report was adopted with 330 votes in favour, 298 against and 65 abstentions.

Copyright European Union