The current rise in nationalism, populism, hate speeches and the lack of effective social and environmental policies are seriously putting our democracies under threat.
Seizing the momentum of the 2018 Annual Colloquium on Fundamental Rights, a broad coalition of civil society organisations came together to reaffirm democracy as a common central value within the European Union. They handed over to the European Commission First Vice-President Frans Timmermans a joint call for action urging EU leaders and governments to:
- Uphold the rule of law in putting in place a new mechanism to protect democracy, with annual assessments of government compliance with EU values
- Apply zero tolerance for hate speech and cyber-violence
- Defend the right for people to campaign for the public interest. People and organisations taking action to improve and protect our democracies, our environment and to uphold EU values should be protected and supported.
AGE Platform Europe stands by the side of its civil society partners and fully supports this call. Effective policy measures are urgently needed to make our European societies more inclusive, equal and sustainable. For that, listening to and involving civil society is here more than never required!
Responding to the civil society delegation, Mr Timmermans stated: ‘I believe our democracy is under attack because it’s too easy to chain people to their fears.’ We need to ‘take away they reasons for their fears and we save democracy’. He added that this situation is ‘made possible because our society is not fair enough. Our society does not provide equal treatment for everyone, it is seen as working for those who already have everything instead of for the common good. That is what we need to change.’ He further encouraged civil society to go on working to that goal, following EU policies in a critical way, without losing faith. ‘This is a fight that is going to be hard but we can win it’, he concluded.
Ahead of the upcoming European elections, the 2018 Annual Colloquium on Fundamental Rights gathered high-level national and European policymakers, international organisations, civil society organisations, media representatives, the world of business and education as well as legal professionals in Brussels on 26-27 November. The two-day event examined how to foster broad participation and representation as a condition for inclusive democratic societies. Participants also looked at the opportunities and challenges of digitalization in supporting an informed, fair and pluralistic democratic debate.
You can read the agenda and discussion papers here.
Follow the debate on Twitter: #EU4Democracy