Coinciding with the European Week of Regions and Cities (EWRC), the highest profile event for subnational government in the EU, the Renew Europe Group in the European Committee of the Regions (Renew Europe CoR) launched a campaign to support Poland’s LGBT+ citizens who have been the recent target of intimidation and discriminatory resolutions passed by a number of local and regional authorities.
President of Renew Europe CoR, François Decoster said:
“We followed with great worry the development in Poland where several municipalities, provinces and counties have adopted resolutions creating a climate of discrimination and possible persecution of the LGBT+ community, what NGOs have come to call LGTB free zones.”
As part of this campaign of support to address the issue, each speaker of the Renew Europe group highlighted the plight they are suffering in Poland and how the EU needs to explore the mechanisms at its disposal to enforce the respect of its values and anti-discrimination policies.
Vice-President of Renew Europe CoR, Ulrika Landergren said:
“We support the decision by the European Commission to stop funding of twinning projects of these municipalities. We even want to take a step further and believe that no EU funding should be granted to authorities not sharing basic EU values such as inclusion, tolerance and non-discrimination.”
She asked European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen what the EU can do to put pressure on these authorities to abolish these resolutions and, if that is not done, to cease also other kind of EU funding to these local and regional authorities, in particular the European Structural and Investment Funds.
Michiel Rijsberman, regional minister of Flevoland, noted:
“We can’t compromise on values that we all share, like partnership and solidarity, and like those that are under stress in some countries such as Poland with resolutions hostile to LGBTQ+. To everyone in Europe, this should be abhorrent. As a region (in Flevoland) we can become more resilient and culturally richer, even during COVID19: to recover we need the diversity of people.”
Citing his own experiences as Mayor, President Decoster added:
“My own city of Saint-Omer has embraced equality and diversity and has grown more tolerant, open and successful because of it. We have welcomed citizens from all over the EU, including of course thousands of Poles, and we are more prosperous because of it. Our cultures and identity have not in any way diminished – in fact they have become richer.”
Further initiatives are in preparation and will be announced in the coming weeks.
The EWRC is the EU’s largest annual event organised jointly by the European Committee of the Regions and the European Commission, attracting in normal circumstances up to 7000 people from all over the EU and beyond. This year, because of COVID-19, most of it is taking place online.