DID YOU KNOW?
The European Commission is implementing actions to strengthen the Rule of Law in the EU as it is the fundamental value that guarantees that democracy and human rights are upheld.
EDC News: Rule of Law Mechanism
The Rule of Law, in accordance to Article 2 of the Treaty 2012/C 326/2, is the fundamental value whereby the EU and all Member States are governed by a body of law (legal codes and processes) adopted by established procedures rather than discretionary or case-by-case decisions.
Many EU countries have high rule of law standards, but important challenges still exists in the EU, such as implementation of these values, judicial independence, corruption, absence of media pluralism, and legislation processes throughout the EU. Therefore, the existence of the Rule of Law is crucial to the peaceful coexistence of EU citizens and the consolidation of world peace. To protect these fundamental values, the European Commission launched the Rule of Law Mechanism. The mechanism will be the main tool, which will help identify problems in the EU and develop practices to address them. Collaboration and input of Member States and relevant EU organizations and bodies are critical for the mechanism to be effective.
In January 2020, all heads of Member States’ governments were sent a request to establish a framework for the rule of law. Member States governments, as well as 200 stakeholders, submitted their written contributions and held over 300 online face-to-face meetings in May 2020. The final report (COM 2020/580 final) outline:
- Justice system – Key to developing effective justice systems are independents quality and efficiency. Therefore, the majority of Member States have carried out various reforms aimed at strengthening the separation of powers and ultimately the independence of the judiciary from the executive and the legislature. At the same time, with the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, Member States are looking for ways to achieve the digitization of justice. The first effort is the installation of systems for remote communication with lawyers and other users.
- Anti-corruption – Another important action of Member States are fighting corruption and imposing criminal sanctions to those breaking the law and hinder the progress of society. In addition, Member States raised their concerns about the implementation and effectiveness of the prosecution and fight against corruption. Hence, the European Union has adopted a number of actions including awareness- raising measures, rules on lobbying, transparency and so on.
- Media pluralism and freedom – Combating misinformation and the enhancement of pluralism in Europe is another key objective. More specifically, many Member States are trying to minimise the influence of media outlets, whose aim is to mislead citizens. Thereby, achieving, through the independence of media authorities, the transparency of media ownership, access to information based on the transparency of public administration. In addition, some Member- States have implemented actions to eliminate threats and attacks against journalists.
- Institutional control issues – The European Union deals with various other issues of institutional control, such as citizens’ ability to challenge and control the legislative and executive power, within the limits, in order to achieve a balance between the powers. Concurrently, in order to deal with the COVID-19 economic and social crisis, National Parliaments, Constitutional courts and Supreme Courts were critical in ensuring appropriate measures and actions were implemented.
To address the above issues and the inconsistency of legislation, especially in regards to accessing emergency funding and provisions, the ultimate goal of the EU is to develop cooperation between Member States to improve and develop the conditions outlined within the Rule of Law Report framework.
- Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council about the EU framework of the Rule of Law (COM/2014/0158 final), Eur-Lex
- Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions about the 2020 Rule of Law Report (COM 2020/580 final), Eur-Lex
- Briefings, Blogs & Summaries:
- Questions and Answers presents the Rule of Law through answers to common questions of the people, European Commission
- Commissioner Reynders Press speaking points is the speech of Commissioner Reynders about the Rule of Law Report on 30 September 2020 in European Parliament.
- Methodology is refers to the preparation of the Rule of Law Report as it announced by Ursula von der Layer, the President of European Commission.
- Rule of Law Checklist is adopted by the Venice Commission in order to evaluate the State of the Rule of Law in single States.
- Briefing, contains legal mechanism for protecting the Rule of Law in EU, European Parliament
- Protecting EU common values within the Member States: An overview of monitoring, prevention and enforcement mechanisms at EU level, European Parliamentary Research Service
- Justice scoreboard 2020 presents the latest comparative data on the independence, quality and efficiency of justice systems in all Member States, European Commission
- Rule of law mechanism-toolbox presents the way which Rule of Law Mechanism, Framework and the 7th article of the EU Treaty works, European Union
- The European rule of law mechanism shows the steps which the European institutions follow in order to apply the Rule of Law Mechanism, European Commission
- Public Opinion, contains reports, factsheets with statistics in English and in national languages and summary of Rule of Law in three languages, European Commission