The Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights (HFHR) organized a seminar entitled ”Human Rights in the United Europe” from 11-13 April. More than 40 graduates from HFHR’s Human Rights School learned about EU institutions and human rights issues related to the EU…  (17 April, 2003)

“On the Eve of the Referendum on Human Rights in the United Europe”
The Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights organized the seminar titled “Human Rights in the United Europe” which was held from 11 to 13 April. More than 40 graduates of the HFHR’s Human Rights School, who live in different regions of our country, participated in it. All of them are involved in local pre-referendum campaigns the objective of which is to inform the public about the EU institutions and mechanisms of its activities. The objective of the seminar was to broaden the participants’ knowledge of the issue and to make it possible for them to share their experience in conducting pro-EU campaigns. 

On the first day of the seminar, Dr Piotr Wawrzyk from the Warsaw University shared his knowledge about the course of the Europe’s integration with the participants in the seminar. Next, a representative of the European Integration Committee Office, Dr Filip Jasinski, delivered his reports. In his first report, he spoke about the human rights in the European Union and the second report was devoted to the cooperation among the countries of the Schengen Treaty. Dr Filip Jasinski talked about, inter alia, the issues related to the right to asylum, the migration, and the organized crime.                                                

In the afternoon of the first day of the seminar, the discussion focused on the HFHR’s and its Human Rights School graduates’ activities connected with the holding of the 8-June referendum, which will demonstrate whether the Poles support the Poland’s access to the EU. The information materials about the EU were distributed among the participants in the seminar.                                     

The second day of the seminar was commenced with the report delivered by Dr Maciej Duszczyk (UKIE) titled “Which EU Legal Instruments Will Different Social and Professional Groups (e.g. small businessmen, farmers, traders) Take Advantage Of?” In her turn, Dr Monika Szwarc from the Law Faculty of the Warsaw University familiarized the participants in the seminar with the standards of work of the EU state and self-government administration.
On the same day, i.e. on 12 April, the first panel discussion was held under the title: “What Threatens the Results of the Referendum? (About the situation in the country and abroad). The discussion in which Professor Roman Wieruszewski from the Human Rights Committee in Geneva, Dr Jacek Kucharczyk from the Foundation of the Institute of Public Issues, and Dr Tomasz Zukowski from the Institute of Social Police, the Warsaw University, participated, was led by HFHR President Marek Nowicki.                          

After the break, the second panel discussion followed which was also conducted by HFHR President Marek Nowicki. The debate focused on the different problems connected with the Poland’s access to the EU. Professor Wiktor Osiatynski from the Central European University, Budapest devoted the greatest part of his report to the cultural identity of the Poles and to the issue of how this identity will be affected by the Poland’s integration with the EU. The issue of the state sovereignty and respective threats to the state sovereignty caused by Poland’s access to the EU were the main subjects of the report delivered by Professor Wladyslaw Czaplinski from the Institute of Legal Sciences, the Polish Academy of Sciences. In his turn, Professor Roman Wieruszewski spoke about the EU citizenship and whether there will be “second-degree” citizens in the EU.

The object of interest of Dr Jacek Mecina from the Polish Confederation of Private Employers was the future market for labour in the EU – i.e. the labour market in the West European countries and the EU’s new member-states, (Poland, Slovakia, and Lithuania). Dr Roman Lusawa from the Regional Centre of Rural spoke about the difficulties of the rural population, in particular, about the fears of farmers. The audience was greatly interested in the discussion, which was reflected in the number of questions asked about the issues raised.

In the evening of 12 April, the participants in the seminar met with HFHR President Marek Nowicki to discuss the current international situation, including the war in Iraq and its consequences.                                                                

What can we do to convince the Polish people to take part in the referendum and say “yes” to the Poland’s access to the EU? – These are the questions, which were discussed on the third day of the seminar during a discussion conducted by HFHR Deputy President Danuta Przywara. The guest of the discussion was Mr Jakub Boratynski from the Stefan Batory Foundation. The discussion was useful: the participants in the seminar shared their experience in conducting the pre-referendum information campaigns and told about their activities and plans to be implemented before 8 June (a likely date of the referendum). During the discussion, the issues related to the strategy and techniques of their activities, the establishment of the support groups, the search for allies as well as the cooperation with mass media were raised.