Defending and strengthening democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights in Europe
Amidst growing Euroscepticism, we believe that fundamental rights and the rule of law are the main features of what makes the EU unique and are essential in order for citizens to identify with the Union. Indeed, the limitation of the powers of public officials by the law, the fact that laws are public, general and apply equally to all, and that they will be upheld by an independent, impartial and neutral judiciary are the DNA of our democratic contract with citizens.
A strong European Democracy. We stand for an EU that is more independent from national governments and directly empowered by European citizens, who make informed choices about their lives. S&D will cement the “Spitzenkandidaten” process, so that the citizens have a say on the political orientation and agenda of the President of the European Commission. We fight for the transparency, integrity and accountability of the decision making process, institutions, European parties and representatives of the EU citizens. We wish that the reform of the European Citizens Initiative will foster debate and participation at European level, including of young people.
Standing up for our “togetherness”. We are together in a community, the bedrock of which is the shared foundation of European values: human rights, fundamental freedoms, democracy and the rule of law. We are therefore deeply concerned by recent developments in Hungary and Poland, which pose serious threats to fundamental rights. Our democracies must preserve constitutional checks and balances. We are sensitive, in particular, to the separation of powers and the key role of supreme courts and constitutional courts in upholding the EU’s common values. We have been at the forefront of calling on the Commission to establish a comprehensive Union Pact for Democracy, the Rule of Law and Fundamental Rights (EU Pact DRF) that is objective, impartial, and evidence-based and applied equally and fairly to all Member States as well as to the institutions of the Union and which includes both a preventative and a corrective dimension.
Fostering media diversity and press freedom. The role of the media is critical in safeguarding democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights. The Socialists and Democrats are committed to ensure that the role of the press is respected and high-quality journalism is allowed to flourish. Therefore, we need to promote and strengthen quality investigative journalism, improve protection for journalists when they are under attack and reinforce co-operation between journalists and trade unions. We must ensure media pluralism and transparency on media ownership across the EU.
An information society protecting privacy and personal data. The Socialist and Democrats lead the way in shaping European rules on information society, to ensure that no EU citizen is exposed to abuses. National reforms on surveillance should be transparent and include all international and European safeguards. We remain committed to reinforce the rule of law in digital societies, ensure that victim support services are strengthened in criminal proceedings and effective legal remedies are in place along with effective oversight.
For a rights-based Union. Mismanaged globalisation has left whole sections of the population with no benefits, across countries and regions. We must ensure that welfare states, social cohesion, equality and inclusiveness are strengthened to cope with the multiple challenges posed by globalisation. We believe strongly that fundamental rights must take precedence over economic freedoms and that a strong Social Europe develops in the near future as it is the safety net of our democracy.
Against all forms of discrimination. We are pushing for an ambitious EU legislative agenda that ensures equal rights and opportunities for all citizens, regardless of their religious or political beliefs, gender or sexual orientation, social or ethnic origin. Full equality of women and men is an essential principle of the Union. The S&D Group demands that the Council unblocks the Anti-discrimination Directive and that the Commission uses its competences to the full to act on the Council of Europe recommendations on the fight against discrimination of LGBTI persons in the EU. See: http://www.socialistsanddemocrats.eu/position-papers/sd-position-paper-lgbti-rights.