S&Ds: EU needs a policy shift to keep engaging on democracy and the rule of law

Socialist and democrat politicians will today meet with academics and civil society activists in Copenhagen to discuss what the EU can do better to protect democracy and the rule of law in member states.

Participants will reaffirm their commitment to the principles laid out in the Copenhagen Criteria 25 years ago, which ensures all member states have the institutions to preserve democratic governance and human rights.

The event is part of the S&Ds #EuropeTogether initiative and Democracy Month, bringing together citizens and civil society with MEPs to discuss the future of democracy and the respect for the rule of law.

Speaking ahead of the conference S&D Group vice-presidents Josef Weidenholzer and Jeppe Kofod said:

“As Socialists and Democrats, we believe that we can keep citizens devoted to the institutions inscribed in the Copenhagen Criteria with the right policies, addressing the true concerns of citizens. Therefore, we have proposed ideas to address the negative consequences of globalisation, the wrong response to the financial crisis, or an impression of uncontrolled migration.

It was confirmed this week that the Central European University in Budapest will be forced to close its doors and move to Vienna. Marking a sad day for Europe on which academic freedom can no longer be taken for granted in the EU. This is just the latest example of Viktor Orbán cracking down on those critical of his government. Since 2011, his government has been eroding the basic principles that underpin any democracy: the rule of law, the separation of powers, freedom of press, and freedom of academic thought.

“As we meet today in the same city where 25 years ago our predecessors laid out the Criteria to protect democracy and fundamental rights in Europe, we reaffirm our commitment to those values. With the right political direction for Europe, we are certain they will stand strong in all our member states for the next 25, 50 or 100 years.”