Greece: When You Think European Elections, Think Human Rights!

The European elections on 23-26 May are a key moment for candidates to commit to protect our fundamental rights.

European elections will take place in just a few weeks. Over the past decade, Greek citizens have frequently debated over the European Union’s impact on their lives. While many are critical of what they perceive as the European Union’s lack of solidarity over migration and the impact of debt-driven austerity on the rights of people in Greece, it is fair to say that Greeks remain deeply attached to Europe and the values of dignity, equality, freedoms it is founded on.

As the European Union heads towards a critical democratic moment later this month, it is important to recognize how the European Parliament has emerged in the past few years as a forum that can weigh in on the EU’s actions.

Since its previous round of elections, the European Parliament has continued to press for solidarity and a responsibility-sharing mechanism among EU member states in the much-needed reform of the Dublin system on which EU asylum procedures are based. Thus far, the Parliament is the only EU institution that has spoken out strongly on the impact of EU policies on human rights in Greece and criticized other member states for failing to support Greece, including by relocating asylum seekers.

A European Union and a Greek flag flutter in front of the temple of the Parthenon in Athens, Monday, Oct. 17, 2016.

© 2016 AP Photo/Yorgos Karahalis

Some in Greece will use their vote to protest EU policies, while others may not participate at all. But whoever the representatives chose to sit at the European Parliament for the next five years are, they will have an important role to play in protecting rights.  

Europe deserves a Parliament that fights against discrimination, seeks to improve labor and social conditions, protects our privacy, and ensures EU policies help promote human rights elsewhere in the world.

Voters in Greece and elsewhere in Europe should not take their responsibilities lightly on May 26. The European elections are an important opportunity to stand for human rights and elect candidates who pledge to uphold them. I hope that when you think of the European elections, you will think human rights.