Red tape or red line?

The ink under the Rome declaration marking the 60th anniversary of the European Treaty has dried, with the satisfaction of having managed to get all 27 signatures on there. This was only possible due to the concessions made in particular by the Progressives. There can no doubt that after the letter from the British PM triggering article 50 and the launch of BREXIT, the European Union must be kept together. The question is at what price? It was shameful enough that the notorious UKIP liar – as we saw during the BREXIT campaign in the UK - could compare in the Plenary debate of the European Parliament the EU to the Mafia (and he did nothing to improve matters when he replaced Mafia with gangster). Why was he not thrown out of the plenary? This was not a sign of strong leadership. All those who hate the European project will be even more ready to say what they want if no limits are set and provocations continue to pay off.

The lack or impossibility of setting limits also seems to have encouraged the authoritarian Hungarian PM who continues his “cultural crusade” against progressive culture, media and now the Central European University in Budapest. Where are the limits? How can the EPP still continue to welcome this autocrat in their ranks? The joint press conference of the S&D, Greens, GUE NGL and ALDE was a step in the right direction. We have heard so much about red tape limiting business initiative.  What we need right now are some red lines to keep together a Europe that is based on values and not on the memory of the good old times.

All possible legal procedures should be used to show to the democrats in countries like Hungary that the European Union is with them and to encourage them to stand against despotism. Next year there will be elections in Hungary and if it is not guaranteed that they take place under democratic rules it will be difficult to change the regime from the inside. As changing it from outside is impossible we have to show our solidarity and support the democratic forces. This was also the significance of an event held on Monday this week by the Civil Society Development Foundation in the EESC on "Democracy and rule of law - debate on the current situation in the EU”, gathering democratic and progressive civil society organisations and movements from Central and Eastern Europe. The EU could and should do much more: a well rethought Europe for Citizens programme should be more than just the promotion of the EU and become a real support mechanism for the empowerment of those civil society and democratic organisations who defend European values in these countries! We need to show and to prove: EU4U!

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