Democracy rules in more EU countries are under more pressure

EP Plenary session - Report on the Commission's 2023 Rule of Law report

Members of the European Parliament have warned about the democratic rule of law in countries such as Hungary, Malta, Slovakia and Greece. It is in danger there and must be protected, they say. In these and other EU countries, the media, vulnerable groups, civil society and the independence of authorities are under pressure. Things are also not going well in Spain and France.

It is not only about democracy, but also about the rule of law and fundamental rights that are at risk in these countries. In the debate in Strasbourg, MEPs sounded the alarm: they believe that the European Commission is not taking sufficient action against governments with authoritarian tendencies that would like to tamper with democracy. According to them, the Commission's passivity applies in the area of the EU values and fundamental rights.

When it comes to the independence of the judiciary, Parliament points out the differences between the EU countries. This mainly concerns the appointment of high judges, such as in Hungary. Democratic institutions are also being tinkered with in other countries. For example, Slovakia is proposing to adjust institutions and the media landscape, and organizations that receive foreign funding are under fire. 

At the same time, corruption remains a major concern for Parliament, which once again condemns systematic, discriminatory, non-transparent and unfair practices in EU countries. In Hungary, several companies tapped into EU funds to enrich political friends of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán's government.

Three young Roma were recently murdered in Greece, Parliament has noted. The independence of supervisory authorities is also threatened there. Take, for example, the Greek approach to the spyware scandal. Furthermore, there are objections from Parliament against the proposed amnesty law in Spain, which should grant amnesty to convicted Catalan constitutional offenders.

In a resolution, MEPs deplore the excessive force and discriminatory treatment of demonstrators by the Greek police. The same is happening in France, where in addition to disproportionate violence against demonstrators, many demonstrators are also being arrested unnecessarily. 

The European Parliament also notes that minority rights are being undermined in several EU member states. This has consequences for religious groups, LGBTIQ+ people, women, refugees and migrants.

The EP rapporteur on the annual Rule of Law situation, Dutch MEP Sophie in Veld (Renew/D66), called on the European Commission to take tougher action against governments of EU countries that affect the rights of EU citizens. “People have the right to know how the rule of law is going in their country. Where the rule of law deteriorates, problems arise that directly affect people.

Increasing corruption in particular is such a problem. Not so long ago we saw how Covid prevention tools fell into the wrong hands due to corruption. Today marks one year since a fatal train disaster took place in Greece, which could have been prevented if European money for rail safety had not been embezzled. An example of how corruption can be very deadly. “