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European Parliament Alarmed Over Rule of Law in Greece

European parliament. Credit: Europarl/ CC-BY-SA 2.0

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 favor, 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.

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.

The European 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.

Wiretapping scandal and the rule of law in Greece

MEPs also condemned the instrumentalization of “national security threats” to wiretap political opponents, including MEPs. In response to the wiretapping scandal, MEPs demanded that democratic safeguards should be strengthened and called for effective investigations with the help of Europol.

They asked 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 scrutinizing the government.

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 organized crime.

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.

Because of all this, the Parliament calls on the Commission to 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.

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.

Related: Greece ‘Worst Performing EU Country’ on Corruption, Media Freedom

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