Rule of Law Round Table - 25/6/2019 - London

Vi segnalo che faremo il primo passo concreto per l'attivazione sulla ICE sulla Rule of Law in Gran Bretagna, con un primo incontro a Londra, dove connetteremo un parlamentare neoeletto dei LibDem al Parlamento Europeo, Science for Democracy, un'esponente di una rete accademica europea con focus sul rafforzamento della Rule of Law in Europa (Reconnect Europe), un rappresentante di un'organizzazione dei cittadini europei che vivono in UK, giornalisti, attivisti politici e, ovviamente Eumans.

Vi riporto qui sotto la guest list, il programma e il testo introduttivo dell'evento. Purtroppo sara' un evento privato perche' la location non permette copertura video, ma faro' un output scritto per voi.

 

Respect the Rule of Law Round Table, 25th June 2019, 7pm to 9pm, National Liberal Club, London 

The Rule of Law is one of the fundamental rights our democracy is built upon. The crisis of the western democracy takes its most dangerous level when respect of the Rule of Law breaks down. We are seeing this happening in a widespread manner in Europe, with examples in UK, Italy, Poland, Hungary, as well as across the ocean in the USA.

Hence, strengthening the respect of the Rule of Law in Europe is an urgent priority for all of us to work on. We believe that we should act on two fronts: at institutional level and at citizens’ level. The former is essential to voice our concerns where legislation is done, and we will do this by connecting with our MEPs. The latter is important to raise awareness within people, and translate into everyday life examples why the Rule of Law is so important for our democracy. To this end, we are campaigning to promote the European Citizen Initiative for the Respect of the Rule of Law in the European Union, which has now been accepted by the European Commission. The ECI on Rule of Law initiative was launched by the European Movement and is already supported by other citizens’ organisations, including Science for Democracy (Belgium), Associazione Luca Coscioni (Italy) and Eumans (Belgium).

On Tuesday 25th of June we will meet with Irina Von Wiese, LibDem MEP, Marco Perduca, Coordinator of Science for Democracy and other representatives of UK political and citizens’ organisations in order to discuss the recent crisis of the Rule of Law in UK, in the aftermath of the Brexit referendum, to translate this into examples of citizens’ everyday life and to make a political plan of action to demand Respect of the Rule of Law in Europe.

 

Round Table Guest List

Manlio Trovato, Moderator, Eumans activist for the Rule of Law ECI

 

Irina Von Wiese, LibDem MEP (will arrive at 8pm)

Marco Perduca, Coordinator of Science for Democracy

Prof Laurent Pech, Prof of European Law, Middlesex University & Reconnect-Europe

Charles Jenkins, Acting secretary of the UK Section of  the Association of European Journalists,  ex-editor for the Economist Intelligence Unit

Tony Simpson, EUCitizen2017, Promoter of the European Citizens Initiative on Permanent European Citizenship

Ilse Mongesen, The3Million, Public affairs and campaigns

Christian Pepe, Coordinator +Europa London

Dominic Buxton, Political activist, young LibDem

Oreste Gallo, President of the Board, Cometa Pension Fund (Italy)

Laura Convertino, Science for Democracy

Silvia Favasuli, Journalist and political activist

Jean Maillard, PhD Candidate, University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory NLIP group

Judy Fu Lawuer, Associate, International Litigation and Arbitration

Antonio Guarino , Professor of Economics, University College London  

 

Programme

  • The Rule of Law current landscape
    • The Rule of Law in a nutshell
    • Threats to the Rule of Law in UK and the Brexit case
    • Threats to the Rule of Law in Europe
  • How to strengthen the Rule of Law as a fundamental value within citizens
    • The European Citizens’ Initiative on the Rule of Law
    • The role of grassroots organisations
  • How to strengthen the Rule of Law at institutional level
    • The Reconnect policy brief on strengthening the Rule of Law
    • The role of MEPs
  • Conclusions and next steps

Eccoci qua, abbiamo inaugurato il primo incontro di Eumans a Londra!

Una discussione interessantissima e partecipata sulla Rule of Law. Con Marco Perduca, Irina Von Wiese (Lib Dem MEP) e Laurent Pech (Prof of European Law, un vero esperto della Rule of Law) che insieme a tanti altri hanno animato un bel dibattito.

Ci siamo lasciati con la voglia di incontrarci regolarmente, la voglia di interagire in eumans.eu e in riunione diffusa con polacchi, ungheresi, italiani e altri europei. Con tante idee su come rafforzare la Rule of Law, ma anche la consapevolezza della sua fragilita'. 

Ma qualcosa e' cambiato. Come ha detto Laurent, che si occupa di Rule of Law da 20 anni, un incontro cosi' solo qualche anno fa sarebbe stato impensabile. La societa' civile si sta svegliando!

Scrivero' un sunto a breve, ma intanto vi allego un paio di foto.

Eumanamente, 

Manlio

Eumans in riunione sulla Rule of Law al National Liberal Club
Eumans, con Churchill sullo sfondo

Grandi i miei Londoners :) 

Oltre a essere molto eleganti, mi pare che il panel fosse molto ben distribuito tra grassroots organizations, come 3Millions, Accademici e esperti e partiti politici. 

Sono molto curiosa di leggere le note finali perchè inserire la Brexit nel quadro della Rule of Law è una sfida molto molto importante.

Grande Manlio!  

 

Rule of Law Round Table
Tuesday 25th June 2019 from 7pm to 9pm
National Liberal Club, Whitehall Place, London, SW1A 2HE

Key Takeaways

  • The rise of national autocratic forces is leading to democratic backsliding in Europe, which can lead to soft dictatorships (i.e. one party regimes)
  • Democratic backsliding follows the boiling egg analogy: you realise you are boiled when it’s too late!
  • However, this Round Table is the most extraordinary evidence that citizens are awakening to this threat. This awareness, combined with academic focus and institutional action, could be our most effective way to defend and strengthen the Rule of Law.
  • Reconnect-Europe is an academic research project, with four-year funding from the EU, which connects academic institution across Europe to make concrete recommendation on how to strengthen the Rule of Law by means of using the existing legislation.
  • Irina is about to take office as LibDem MEP and is keen to take this forward at EP level.
  • The European Citizen Initiative for the Respect of the Rule of Law in the European Union can play a key role in raising awareness at citizens’ level across Europe.
  • Eumans is a pan-european grassroot movement committed to play an important role in connecting citizens, civic organisations, academics and MEPs to work together with a view to trigger a positive change and strengthen the Rule of Law in Europe (in addition to other initiatives supporting democracy, sustainable development, the environment, human rights and well-being).
  • Democracy backsliding is happening in UK too. Brexit threatens to take away fundamental citizens’ rights, threatening the EU charter of fundamental rights, the EU Citizenship, the right of free movement, and citizens’ life choices made on legitimate expectations of their rights.
  • With Brexit 60 million citizens may lose the European Citizenship.
  • The rhetoric of “the will of the people” and the concept that the government can operate within that framework is the most obvious example of threats to the Rule of Law in UK
  • In addition to ECIs, another tool to consider is the option available to any group of 50 citizens to ask the European Parliament to look into possible violations of Article 2 TEU values by a European Political Parties (attempt by Pech  and Alemanno on behalf of The Good Lobby). A good way to deal with “bad apples” within the parties.
  • We agreed that we shall meet again and get organised to take this initiative forward. Irina may be able to facilitate the use of Europe House for a public event in London.

 

Next Steps

  • Eumans to organise a virtual (video conference) Round Table on the Rule of Law with activists, politicians and grassroot organisations from UK, Italy, Belgium, Poland, Hungary (and more)
  • Eumans to launch of the Rule of Law web site for collecting signatures on the ECI for the Respect of the Rule of Law in the European Union, and providing a platform for cooperating on this initiative

 

Meeting Report

On Tuesday the 25th of June 2019 fourteen of us met at the National Liberal Club in London to discuss what can be done to strengthen the Rule of Law in Europe, and to understand the implications of Brexit from a Rule of Law perspective in UK. Fourteen concerned citizens who want to make a positive change, bridging this initiative, the European Parliament, the academic world, the media and citizens’ organisations.

As Prof Laurent Pech explained, the Rule of Law are a set of legal principles which can be interpreted as constitutional principle which is intrinsically linked to respect for democracy and for fundamental rights (more here https://www.biicl.org/bingham-centre/schools/ruleoflaw).

Like a boiling egg only realised that it has been boiled when the damage is done, we are now witnessing a democracy backsliding process, which can lead to soft dictatorships, ie one party regimes. The Rule of Law is being substituted by the narrative of “the will of the people”. The UK Government rhetoric on Brexit, whereby those who oppose Brexit are “enemy of the people” is in contrast with the Rule of Law. The government, and the Brexiteer politicians, claim that they alone represent the people, and no one can’t go against them. This is democracy backsliding!

The Rule of Law is, in fact, very easy to destroy. If planned, government in power could destroy the rule of law in seven steps, and this may be achieved as quickly as in a couple of years if the government is able to take control of key institutions, like the court of justice, the media, the parliament, the tax and data office. A scenario which, whilst not necessarily straightforward to achieve, would like to soft or hard dictatorships in a short amount of time.

Perhaps the most important take-away of the evening was that citizens are awakening to this threat. Prof Pech has worked on Rule of Law for more than twenty years and said that meeting like this would have been unthinkable only a few years ago. Citizens are awakening, but also politicians, institutions and the academic world.

It was great to hear that the EU has provided funding for a four year project to research and propose solutions on how to strengthen the Rule of Law: the Reconnect-Europe project. Key objective of this programme is to provide concrete recommendation on how to strengthen the Rule of Law in Europe, by making use of existing legislation. This is by far the most effective and efficient way to make a change, as triggering a new legislation proposal is a lengthy process.

Brexit is affecting the strength of the Rule of Law in UK in many ways. The first is the government rhetoric of “the will of the people”, which is used as a framework to operate within, as opposed to the Rule of Law itself. The second is the threat that Brexit may take away the rights of citizens in UK. All citizens living in UK may experience a degradation of rights, as the UK may opt out of the EU charter of fundamental rights (see https://www.biicl.org/documents/1950_faq_-_brexit_and_the_charter_-_part_one.pdf?showdocument=1 and https://www.biicl.org/documents/1951_faq_-_brexit_and_the_charter_-_part_two.pdf?showdocument=1). All UK national may lose the European Citizenship and, as Ilse of the3million explained, all EU citizens living in UK will find their rights severely reduced. In particular, the freedom of movement right may be replaced with a much-restricted immigration law.

Key to all this is that citizens may have made life choices based on their rights guaranteed by the EU legislation, and Brexit is threatening to take some of these rights away. Citizens had legitimate expectations on how they could live their life, based on the EU rights, and Brexit threatens to retrospectively change people’s right. This is against the Rule of Law.

As Tony Simpson, pointed out, 60 million UK citizens may lose their European Citizenship as a result of Brexit. However, there is a good chance that the ECJ may opine on the legitimacy of taking away this fundamental status. Tony is the promoter of the ECI on Permanent European Citizenship. They manage to collect 140,000 signatures in UK and their biggest difficulty was the use of the EC software, which resulted in many invalid signatures. Also, partly by choice partly due to operational difficulties, it was difficult for them to collect signatures outside UK. This is where a pan-European organisation like Eumans can make a difference.

ECIs can be used as a tool to engage citizens and raise awareness. The European Citizen Initiative for the Respect of the Rule of Law in the European Union can play a key role in raising awareness at citizens’ level across Europe. Eumans is committed to play an important role in connecting citizens, civic organisations, academics and MEPs to work together with a view to trigger a positive change and strengthen the Rule of Law in Europe.

Irina has yet to take office but has already started connecting with MEPs from different countries, in order to promote the image of Europe, campaigning for an extension to article 50 in order to allow a People’s Vote. Key is to work together cross-party and cross-country, particularly with those MEPs coming from countries where the Rule of Law is mostly under threat. In particular, Irina has started conversation with Momentum MEPs from Hungary.

Jean, who is studying machine learning and artificial intelligence applied to social media, gave us an account on disinformation on politics in social media, and the difficulties of solving the issue by means of engineer-lead controls. Managing information is a political and ethical issue and, hence, political input is required to address this. Someone wondered if this may the reason why Nick Clegg joined Facebook, but let’s leave it there.

As the evening drew to a close, we discussed on how to take forward this work, working at citizens level by means of the ECI and at institutional level, at the EP.

Laurent mentioned another possible way of dealing with the “bad apples” taking national autocratic behaviour in political parties. This can done by making use of a new option available to any group of 50 citizens to ask the European Parliament to look into possible violations of Article 2 TEU values by a European Political Parties. This is something he already attempted with Prof Alemanno on behalf of The Good Lobby (https://verfassungsblog.de/holding-european-political-parties-accountable-testing-the-horizontal-eu-values-compliance-mechanism/). A very interesting options, well worthwhile exploring when a new EP President is appointed.

The Rule of Law may seem an abstract concept to citizens, but it is an invisible framework with touches every citizen in their everyday life. It is invisible until it is taken away, at which point its absence changes our life in our most fundamental rights. The Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law has been running education sessions targeted at secondary schools and has written short booklets which bring the Rule of Law to life in a way that, we are told, is very effective. These booklets can be ordered here https://www.biicl.org/bingham-centre/schools/signup.

Tonight, we were fourteen of us. We talked for over two hours and wanted to talk more. We have more people keen to follow up on this work and contribute to make a positive impact. We shall carry on, meet again, get organised and make progress. Together we can trigger a positive change and we can be the catalyst of this change. I am now convinced that this is possible.

Many thanks for all your contribution and energy. We shall continue.

Manlio

Guest list

Manlio Trovato, Moderator, Eumans activist for the Rule of Law ECI

Irina Von Wiese, LibDem MEP

Marco Perduca, Coordinator of Science for Democracy

Laurent Pech, Prof of European Law, Middlesex University & Reconnect WP Lead

Jan van Zyl Smit, Senior Research Fellow, Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law

Charles & Ivana Jenkins, Acting secretary of the UK Section of the Association of European Journalists, ex-editor for the Economist Intelligence Unit

Tony Simpson, EUCitizen2017, Promoter of the ECI on Permanent European Citizenship

Ilse Mogensen, The3Million, Public affairs and campaigns

Christian Pepe, Coordinator +Europa London

Dominic Buxton, Political activist, young LibDem

Oreste Gallo, President of the Board, Cometa Pension Fund (Italy)

Laura Convertino, Science for Democracy

Jean Maillard, PhD Candidate, University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory, NLIP group