a year Ago, the European Commission against Poland-their strongest criminal means: the rule of law procedure in accordance with article 7 of the EU Treaty. The Polish government has so far not impressed. From this we must draw conclusions: It is high time for a European response to the attacks on democracy and the rule of law, which is more than criticism and punishment.

This answer should align with the Central insight of our time: democratic institutions and the liberal order of society, to which we have grown so accustomed to, are easily perishable – if nobody ever stands up for you. They live by public approval and an emancipated civil society. Populist movements are trying to destroy this. You inveigh against “alienated elites”, which should not be because of their adherence to a free press, independent courts and human rights in the situation, against existential threats. Only a “strong leader” could protect “the people”, either in front of Muslims, Jews, capitalists or Old-Communists. Such reasoning sounds all across Europe – from Rome to Chemnitz, from Budapest to Stockholm.

This development requires a vigorous response. Populists are, and splitters in the European Parliament and the Council in the majority, will be handled by the European Integration. We can and want to. But we must not only react, but must begin earlier – in the prevention. To advertise, for example, by putting Pro-democracy citizens in the location, for pluralism, human rights and the rule of law clearer, more persistent, louder and more convincing. And not only in Brussels or Berlin but there where it is needed most: in the area on a local and regional level.

How to do this, you can see currently, for example, in Poland. Polish lawyers affiliated to the “Initiative-Free dishes”, to explain in Youtube Videos, using a simple examples of the rule of law. The “Helsinki Foundation” provides information on violations of human rights and represents victims in court. “Akcja Demokracja” brought hundreds of thousands against the “judicial reforms” on the streets. The movement of “Black Protest” fighting for women’s rights. Such organizations are the hope of a free Europe. You know your local environment and may therefore provide European values to understand. In order to be effective, they also need financial support. This needs to change. The European Union supports pro-democratic non-governmental organizations (NGOs), however, mainly in third countries.