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EU Affairs Human Rights & Rule of Law

From Poland With Love – December

Topic of the Month

The Deal

“We have reached an agreement of a kind that, let me stress it, has accepted all of our preconditions that we have made,” said Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki after the EU leader approved the EUR 1,8 trillion budget and Covid recovery plan. “We have a budget, together with the reconstruction fund, which means big funds for investment, big funds for supporting the development of Poland’s economy, for new technologies, for many goals that need to be implemented, especially now that we want to quickly come out of the pandemic. That’s important to us,” he added.

The new agreement still ties disbursements from the fiscal package to democratic and rule of law standards but such sanctions cannot be triggered before the Court of Justice of the EU has ruled on the legality of any nationally introduced measures. The Commission will refrain from implementing the legally binding rule of law mechanism while a member state challenges its legality at the CJEU. This is a process that can take years.

The new mechanism will also not come into effect until next year (after elections in Hungary).

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Human Rights & Rule of Law Security & Defence

Attack on the Capitol: A Consequence of Radicalisation Online

The recent attack on the US Capitol is no surprise in retrospect. Donald Trump has repeatedly called on his supporters to “stand by”. For days, social media had been mentioning 6 January 2021 as the date to carry out violence if Congress did not revise the results of the 2020 presidential election.

On platforms such as Parler, a Twitter alternative for many right-wing extremists, the messenger Telegram and the online forum ‘TheDonald’, people have been plotting to storm the Capitol for days. But it is not only these niche networks in which plans are being made publicly that were put into action yesterday. It took place on Twitter, TikTok and Facebook as well. On the latter platform in numerous groups with thousands of members who – incited by Donald Trump – doubt the election, spread disinformation and conspiracy narratives and even call for violence.

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EU Affairs Human Rights & Rule of Law

Common Understanding for Common Values: The European Citizenship of the Future

Officially born in Maastricht in 1993, European citizenship is unique in its kind: it is the first transnational citizenship of the modern era, and arguably the testimony of a prodigious path of integration among nations that, after years of troubled relations, finally came together to create the biggest area of democracy and freedom in the world. Almost thirty years later, European citizenship remains a highly topical issue for a number of reasons. In a general sense, it is pressured by the rise of populism, nationalism, as well as the constantly increasing constraining dissensus of national actors vis-à-vis supranational institutions. More specifically, however, recent developments, such as Brexit and attacks on the rule of law in some Member States, make a re-discussion of this form of citizenship ever more urgent.

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EU Affairs Human Rights & Rule of Law

Digital Services Act: The New Foundation for Europe’s Digital Single Market

20 years after the introduction of the European E-Commerce Directive, the Digital Services Act (DSA) was presented yesterday by the European Commission to complement the aging Directive. Twenty years ago, when the E-Commerce Directive (which still regulates the internal market for online services) was introduced, there were no social media platforms as we know them today. Regulation aimed at the requirements of the platform economy is therefore urgently needed. In addition to the Digital Services Act, the Commission also presented the Digital Markets Act (DMA), which is directed at platforms with a gatekeeper function. The DMA supplements regulations on competition law and is intended to limit the market power of the larger digital corporations.

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Human Rights & Rule of Law

Female Politicians Encouraged to Take Over Orban’s Illiberal Regime

The number of women in politics is still low in East-European countries. Women face more challenges in politics than men. The Indítsuk Be Magyarországot Foundation (connected to Momentum Movement) wants to fight this by its new project called Hungarian Women’s Academy , which wants to motivate women to engage in politics.

Women’s participation in public life tends to be pyramid-shaped: the more we move toward smaller settlements, the more female politicians we meet.  This implies that women have the same political ambitions as men, but somehow only a few female leaders make it to the top. Women in politics face resistance, discrimination, social stereotypes and double standards. They face myriad challenges in politics.  Female politicians are judged by how they look and how they are dressed, more than their ideas, but when they do express their views and opinions, they are held to a much higher standard than men do.

The proportion of women in parliament in all post-sovjet countries are around 10-20%. In Hungary it is 12.2%, in Slovakia it is 20.7% and in Romania it is 19.8%. While the trend in most countries around the world is to see an increase in the proportion of women in parliaments, Hungary has fallen from 66th to 149th in 20 years, according to IPU figures.

Hungary is considered to be a conservative country when it comes to gender roles. Moreover, the public rhetoric in the country made family and child-rearing at the top of the list of women’s tasks, politics is a field for strong males according to the governing party. Despite a positive shift in the Hungarian society regarding the political role of women in recent years (Momentum had two female candidates on their European Parliamentary list,  also Democratic Coalition had a female lead candidate on the EP elections), the share of women in politics has not changed radically since the regime change. Currently there are no quotas or anything else that would empower females to take a step forward and become the leaders they could be.  That is one of the reasons why female empowerment has become a priority for Indítsuk Be Magyarországot Foundation. As a result the Foundation has decided to launch its own Women’s Academy which is the very first one in the region that aims to empower its participants to lead in making a change in Hungarian politics.

By educating, supporting and empowering females the Hungarian society gets closer to equality and motivates women leaders to start their grassroot movements as the true engines of changes. Furthermore by promising a new, fresh political culture, female politicians and role models could be one of the biggest threats to Orban’s illiberal and unequal regime.

Anikó Paróczai is the Director of the International Office of the liberal party Momentum and a member of the local council in the 19th district Budapest. Before going into politics, Anikó was a civil rights activist, fighting for equal education for all and the rights of the youth. She participated in the German Federal Elections as an International Election Observer Coordinator, and led the European Citizens Initiative “More Education!” in Hungary in 2017.

Hungarian Women’s Academy is a project launched by the Indítsuk Be Magyarországot Foundation and supported by Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom. This project aims to educate and empower women to get engaged in politics. Among its goals belong the rise in the number of women elected in Hungary or connecting active female participants in politics.

Indítsuk Be Magyarországot Foundation is the party foundation of Momentum Movement, it was founded at the end of 2018. Ever since the foundation is working on issues that are crucial in the Hungarian society, like civic participation, media freedom, anti corruption and equality.

Categories
EU Affairs Human Rights & Rule of Law

From Poland With Love – November

Topic of the month

Election Results

Poland and Hungary vetoed the EU’s historic EUR 1,8 trillion budget and Covid-19 recovery plan over attempts to link funding to respect for the rule of law and democratic norms. The Rule of Law Mechanism would give the European Union a tool for sanctioning violations of stated democratic principles by limiting financial instruments more quickly than is currently possible. Both countries are currently under EU investigations for undermining the independence of courts, media and NGOs. In other words, if the mechanism was approved, they would risk losing tens of billions in aid. Without agreement among all member states, projects financed by the seven-year budget will go without funds and the EUR 750 billion agenda to rebuild European economy will not be activated.