If you've been paying attention, you will have noticed that many governments continue to threaten our basic rights. We're not talking about one-off problems. Rather, we mean when governments try to take apart the whole system that protects us. Like trying to take over the courts, tamper with the electoral system, hijack the media to spread hate-filled propaganda and stop rights groups defending us.
Liberties has just published a paper suggesting improvements the EU could make to better protect the public against governments with an authoritarian agenda. Our recommendations include the following:
- The EU should start looking regularly at what every government is doing to put democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights into practice. This process should happen every one or two years so that problems can be spotted and solved before they become serious or widespread. It would involve having an independent report on every country that is discussed with national governments and parliaments. At the end of the discussion, each country should be given recommendations on how to make improvements.
- The EU should provide funding to rights and democracy groups. These groups should use this money to help educate the public about their rights and how to use them, to monitor whether governments are keeping to their legal obligations and to bring court cases where there are problems.
- The EU should improve the tools that it already has to put political and legal pressure on governments that are breaking down rules and attacking institutions that help to protect rights and democracy, like independent courts and the media. All parts of the EU could make improvements. For example, the European Parliament could make it easier to protect basic values by setting up a cross-party body that would allow MEPs from different political groups to work together more efficiently.
Later this month, the European Commission will publish recommendations on how the EU could do more to protect basic values. Recently, the Commission published a paper (Commission Communication 'Further strengthening the rule of law within the Union') setting out where it thinks things could be improved and asking for suggestions from experts. Liberties' new paper is a response to the Commission's request for input.
Download the full paper here.