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The European Lens - Episode 6: The EU's Role in Promoting Human Rights

Updated: Apr 17, 2023

Press Statement from Frances Fitzgerald MEP

Friday 4th June 2021

Eamon Gilmore tells Frances Fitzgerald: Democracy is under strain

On the sixth episode of MEP Frances Fitzgerald’s podcast, The European Lens, former Tánaiste and EU Special Representative on Human Rights Eamon Gilmore tells of his concerns over democracy due to the rise of authoritarian regimes across the world.

This podcast episode looks at the issue of the EU’s role in promoting human rights. Frances Fitzgerald and guests discuss what impact the EU can have on human rights considering some of the abuses seen in certain EU Member States and what leverage and influence the EU can exert on countries to ensure the advancement of human rights.

Speaking on the podcast, Eamon Gilmore said:

“We are seeing countries that were already authoritarian, becoming more assertive in their authoritarianism. But we are also seeing a growth of what I would call a form of elected authoritarianism or popular authoritarianism, where you have the idea of the strong leader, the strong ruler. They remain strong and they remain in power because they crush the opposition and put the opposition in prison, close down the free press, make it harder for people to express opinions and to join civil society organisations and to enjoy the freedoms that we are familiar with.”

Eamon Gilmore also spoke about human rights abuses in China:

The relationship with China for the European Union is very important because China is a country growing economy. We have lots of things with which we have to talk to China about including issues relating to security, climate change, energy, trade and so on. But we also have to be clear that we differ on human rights and our understanding of human rights. And we have very serious concerns about what is happening in China. Unfortunately, China has recently decided to discontinue the human rights dialogue that it used to have with the European Union. I hope that they will reconsider, but I also hope that they will engage in discussion with us at a more senior political level on human rights issues.”

In the podcast episode, Frances Fitzgerald also spoke to MEP Isabel Wiseler-Lima, EPP co-ordinator on the European Parliament’s sub-committee on human rights. Isabel spoke about the work of the sub-committee, saying:

“The sub-committee is really trying to alert everywhere that there are problems with human rights. We can’t do it for every place because there are so many human rights breaches around the world that you can’t do everything but we pick up subjects and we try to go through the different continents and also make resolutions and show what is going wrong. It’s important to alert about what doesn’t function, when you have people in jail that shouldn’t be in jail, when human rights defenders are being persecuted, there are so many things going on and we try to highlight them.”

The podcast series aims to bring the Irish public closer to the EU by helping them

understand how major issues are playing out on the European stage.

The European Lens is available from all usual podcast outlets.


Notes to the Editor:

Please follow any of these links to listen to the 6th episode of The European Lens:


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