European Parliament concerned about very serious threats to EU values in Greece

The European Parliament raised on Wednesday the alarm over several worrying developments in Greece threatening the rule of law, and called on the Commission to act.

In a resolution adopted with 330 votes in favour, 254 against, and 26 abstentions, MEPs express grave concerns about very serious threats to democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights in the country.

Media freedom

Regarding media pluralism and the safety of journalists, MEPs complain about the lack of progress in the investigation into the murder of George Karaivaz in April 2021. They denounce that journalists are subject to physical threats and verbal attacks (also from high-ranking politicians), violations of their privacy with spyware, and abusive lawsuits –including from the Prime Minister’s entourage. Parliament also has concerns over the independence of the national audiovisual regulatory authority, the concentration of media in the hands of oligarchs, and the distribution of state subsidies.

Spyware

Parliament condemns the instrumentalisation of ‘national security threats’ to wiretap political opponents, including MEPs. In response to so-called “Predatorgate”, MEPs demand that democratic safeguards should be strengthened and call for effective investigations with the help of Europol. They ask to reverse legislation that placed the intelligence service under the direct control of the Prime Minister. The resolution voices concerns over the transfer of the investigation to a different prosecutor and political pressure, intimidation and harassment of officials who are scrutinising the government.

Police violence, mistreatment of migrants, checks and balances

Parliament also points to the excessive use of force by police and the deficient quality of subsequent investigations and court rulings, alleged corruption, the length of judicial proceedings, and possible conflicts of interest, including police infiltration by organised crime.

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The treatment of migrants and systematic pushbacks worry MEPs, as well as the attacks against civil society, particularly the smear campaigns and judicial harassment against human rights activists. MEPs suspect lack of political impartiality in the parliamentary inquiry into the Tempi train disaster –which caused dozens of deaths in February 2023- and are concerned about the pro-government parliamentary majority’s refusal to conduct an investigation into two former ministers for transport as requested by the EU Public Prosecutor’s Office.

In view of all this, the Commission should make full use of the tools available to address the breaches of EU values in Greece, including assessing the use of EU funds under the Common Provisions Regulation in line with the Charter of Fundamental Rights on the one hand, and in relation to the non-implementation of judgments by the European courts in line with the Rule of Law Conditionality Regulation.

Background

MEPs have repeatedly raised concerns about the state of media freedom in Greece, based on the Council of Europe’s Safety of Journalists Platform and the World Press Freedom Index. Further, the 2023 Corruption Perceptions Index shows a worrying decline in issues concerning the rule of law.

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