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FINAL EVENT, Brussels 

For 20 years the Charter of Fundamental rights has ensured Europeans fundamental rights as they are laid out in the 7 chapters of the Charter. From Equality (chap. 3) to Dignity (chap. 1) we have been able to draw on the institutional rights in our fight for a more just world. But in what would have been a jubilee of reflections on the Charter, Covid-19 has entered and altered the discussion in a fundamental way.

If anything, the conversation centering around our rights has only gotten even more relevant in a time where governments all over Europe are using the Covid-19 crisis to justify their attacks on our fundamental rights. Now more than ever we must continue and intensify our efforts to bring visibility to and debate our shared values as they are formulated in the rights of the Charter.
Nyt Europa together with our European partners in Connect Europe that represents a wide range of European civil society actors therefor presented a conference on the importance of the Charter of Fundamental rights on May 26. 

What would have been our final conference hosted in Brussels became an online conference centering around both historical perspectives on the charter, the current crisis situation and a perspective on the future of the charter.  

Together with MEP’s, experts, and civil society we explored the relevant rights issues as highlighted by Covid-19. How do we ensure that the current health crisis does not become an institutional crisis of rights? How can we in international solidarity fight to protect our shared values and rights?

After inputs from members of the European Parliament on how they see some countries taking advantage of the crisis and testimonies from activist on how their work have been effected by Covid several points was made clear:

  • There is a complex paradox in the response to the crisis. We must protect some rights like the right to health by compromising others like freedom rights. 

  • Some countries like Hungary and Poland is taking advantage of the situation to suppress civil society.

  • The pre-existing inequalities is not only being worsened and highlighted during these times; they are themselves reasons for why the crisis has hit some countries and communities extra hard. 

Watch and learn more on the final event below in the summarising video for the Connect Europe project.

The program:

Part I: Introducing the Charter. The importance of our fundamental rights and why they should be re-actualized in the light of COVID –
Conversations with experts.

• 15.00-15.20 Welcome and introduction to the project by Julie Rosenkilde
• 15.20-15.30 UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR), Regional Representative for Europe, Birgit Van Hout
• 15.30-15.40 Morten Kjærum, director Raoul Wallenberg Institute
• 15.40-15.50 Questions/comments

Part II: What is going on in Europe? Looking back at 20 years of fundamental rights and towards the future of activism – Conversation with European activists.

• 15.50-15.55 Poland – Marta Lempart from Polish Womens Strike
• 15.55-16.00 Hungary – Veronika Mora from Civilizacio
• 16.00-16.05 Greece – Christos Lazaridis from the Forum of Refugees
• 16.05-16.10: Denmark - Emma Holten Danish activist from Oxfam Ibis
• 16.10-16.20 questions and comments

Part III: How do we ensure that the current health crisis does not become an institutional crisis of rights? What is the political response? A discussion with members of the Parliament.

• 16.20-16.55 Dicussion with MEPS
• Karen Melchior, Renew, Denmark
• Isabel Carvalhais S&D, Portugal
• Margrete Auken, European Greens, Denmark

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