1285th Meeting of the Committee of Ministers (3 May 2017)
The 4th report of the Secretary General on the “State of democracy, human rights and the rule of law – Populism – How strong are Europe’s checks and balances?”
EUDEL speaking points
The EU welcomes the 4th Annual report of the Secretary General on the "State of democracy, human rights and the rule of law" in Europe. We find it very opportune that the Secretary General assesses the health of the five building blocks of democratic security across member states this time in the context of growing populism. The focus on independent judiciaries, freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and association, the functioning of democratic institutions and inclusive societies remains vital.
It is indeed important to check whether our democratic structures can withstand the increasing and worrisome assaults by populist forces. In fact we would welcome if the Council of Europe would dig even deeper into this theme and were to develop best practices showing ways how to effectively deal with such populist attacks in even more detail.
We share the analysis of the Secretary General that independent judiciary and freedom of expression remain the key challenges, and share his concerns in particular as regards the protection of journalist and the decline in editorial independence as issues that need to be addressed urgently.
In the area of freedom of assembly we share the Secretary General's concerns about the continuous deterioration in the environment in which NGOs operate. We consider that those NGOs that are active in the field of human rights protection have a vital role to play and deserve our full support.
As regards the functioning of democratic institutions it is a cause for concern that the Council of Europe's Member States face challenges posed by increasing populism, cyber-attacks and lack of resources on local and regional governance. Again it would be very helpful to develop best practices on how to effectively deal with these challenges.
We also agree that it remains a challenge to make our societies more inclusive, a challenge we have to face in particular to stem increasing populist tendencies splitting societies into a divisive “us” and “them” dichotomy.
We therefore welcome the key recommendations and proposals for action by the Secretary General and would welcome an in-depth discussion on the implementation of these. Finally we would like to wholeheartedly agree with the Secretary General that this report has to be seen in the context of the previous reports and that also previous recommendations need to be implemented.