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Members of the EESC can have different views – an open letter

Members of the EESC can have different views – an open letter
Data publikacji
calendar 2 marca 2021
Autor publikacji
calendar Zespół KIPR

W skrócie

  • „Diversity Europe” group should reflect the actual shape of the organized civil socjety, which means the members can have different views
  • Divergence of opinions is the cornerstone of liberal democracy and the starting point to any serious deliberation
  • Ordo Iuris provides legal aid free-of-charge to people in need – It supports families, children, single parents, victims of domestic violence, and asylum-seekers
MEPs
Marc ANGELTerry REINTKEGiuliano PISAPIAMonika VANA
Fabio Massimo CASTALDOLiesje SCHREINEMACHERGiuseppina PICIERNOPernando BARRENA
Malin BJÖRKMaria WALSHHilde VAUTMANSRadka MAXOVÁ
Gwendoline DELBOS-CORFIELDAlice KUHNKEIrène TOLLERETRasmus ANDRESEN
Frédérique RIESSira REGOKaren MELCHIORRobert BIEDROŃ
Cyrus ENGERERDietmar KÖSTERKarin KARLSBRORosa D’AMATO
Evelyne GEBHARDTGabriele BISCHOFFŁukasz KOHUTSaskia BRICMONT
Magdalena ADAMOWICZManu PINEDASylvie GUILLAUMESophie IN’T VELD
Sylwia SPUREKManuel BOMPARD

An open letter regarding the campaign of political harassment against a member of the EESC

Distinguished Members of the European Parliament,

as a member of the European Economic and Social Committee, in recent days I have been the subject of a campaign of targeted harassment and misinformation. It was started by your letter requesting my dismissal on purely political and ideological grounds, which included false statements and labelled me in an unfair and biased manner. Following the political pressure, I am requested go through a clarification procedure within the Committee, which would examine my personal views – something unprecedented before.

1. This unparalleled intervention of MEPs against a member of the EESC raises obvious doubts in light of the role of the Committee, which should represent diverse groups and views. Under article 300 section 4 of the Treaty on the Functioning of European Union “the members of the Economic and Social Committee and of the Committee of the Regions shall not be bound by any mandatory instructions. They shall be completely independent in the performance of their duties, in the Union’s general interest”.

Under the treaties, the composition of the Committee should reflect the actual shape of the organized civil society in Europe, including organizations of employers, the employed, and other parties. The group that I belong to is called „Diversity Europe” not by accident – it represents organizations active in a variety of fields, coming from various backgrounds, notably „socio-economic, civic, professional and cultural areas” (article 300 section 2 TFUE). An attempt to exert political pressure against the Committee leadership questions the fundamental idea that its members can have different views. The value that the EESC brings to the European Union is that it can produce balanced opinions – but it always undertakes a genuine debate confronting various reasonable points of view.

Contrary to the claims made by the authors of the letter, the fact that someone does not entirely share their political views is by no definition a „conflict of interest”. 

DIVERGENCE OF OPINIONS IS THE CORNERSTONE OF LIBERAL DEMOCRACY AND THE STARTING POINT TO ANY SERIOUS DELIBERATION. 

Unfortunately, the political request made by MEPs brings back the worst memories of „illiberal politics” from the past, creating a very dangerous precedent for the future. 

2. The letter suggests that an EESC member can be removed from the group after being appointed. On the contrary, no possibility of expulsion is foreseen either in the Rules of Procedure or in the newly adopted Code of Conduct. It is all the more impossible to exclude a member of the EESC solely on the basis of his political views, which are fully in line with the EU treaties and the basic law of his homeland.

Therefore, proposal of the MEPs is illegal by its very nature. Under the Treaties, members of the Committee are first selected by the member states and then appointed by the Council of the EU. If the position of the EESC members as independent counsellors to the European Union were to be unjustly undermined, it would be nearly impossible to re-establish their original authority and resist attacks from political groups of interest. This precedent is also a grave threat to the independence and impartiality of the other non-political EU bodies.

3. The letter does not refer to my own actions, neither within the EESC, nor outside of it. The authors are attempting to stigmatize me only indirectly, due to my involvement with the Ordo Iuris Institute for Legal Culture – a human rights think tank listed in the EU transparency register (subject to a positive review this month), and also possesses the formal UN ECOSOC consultative status.

The letter includes misinformation regarding the activities of Ordo Iuris. In reality, the think tank stands for protecting the rights of every single citizen, regardless of one’s individual features and sexual orientation. Its activities are entirely based on the wording of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and the Polish Constitution. It is a non-partisan and politically independent organization, enjoying support from more than 15,000 private donors yearly.

Ordo Iuris provides legal aid free-of-charge to people in need, in particular to those facing financial difficulties. It supports families, children, single parents, victims of domestic violence, and asylum-seekers. Among those who benefit from the assistance are members of religious and ethnic minorities. Ordo Iuris has never provided „legal aid” to municipalities allegedly declaring themselves to be „LGBT free-zones”, nor did it undertake any actions against the principle of equality between men and women. On the contrary, it regularly organizes high-level conferences on women’s rights, involving prominent female speakers from all over the world. My EESC alternate, Karolina Pawłowska, is particularly active in this field.

As an organization countering hate-related incidents, it has been long involved in the OSCE hate crime reporting system. Ordo Iuris experts have formally presented opinions upon request of i.a. AFCO and LIBE Committees of the European Parliament, the Council of Europe Monitoring Committee, OSCE ODIHR, and the Venice Commission.

Due to its activities in fields of freedom of conscience, freedom of religion and family rights, Ordo Iuris is often described as a conservative organization. It is often critical of stances and actions taken by politicians of different political affiliations. Nevertheless, as an independent watchdog, it should be cherished and respected – as a constitutive element of the participatory democracy – instead of being politically suppressed. We should bear in mind the motto of the European Union: “United in diversity”.

I believe that many of the letter’s signatories are neither aware of the position of the EESC member, nor the background of the case. Therefore, I kindly ask for the clarification meeting with you, which could help us replace a non-substantial confrontation with constructive, evidence-based dialogue.

Best regards,

Tymoteusz Zych

Vice-President of the Polish Federation of NGOs


Fot: wikicommons

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