Strengthening the rule of law through increased awareness, an annual monitoring cycle and more effective enforcement

scale

(Fidel Fernando, Unsplash)

This article is brought to you in association with the European Commission.


Building on the lessons learnt since 2014 and detailed consultations since April this year, the Commission has today decided on a series of measures to further strengthen the rule of law in Europe. Over the past five years, the European Commission has had to deal with a series of challenges to the rule of law in the European Union. The European project relies on constant respect of the rule of law. This is a prerequisite for citizens to enjoy their rights under EU law and for mutual trust among Member States. A Eurobarometer public opinion survey released today shows that more than 80% of citizens attach great importance to respect of the rule of law, and feel that it needs to be improved. 89% of citizens the need for the rule of law to be respected in all other EU Member States.

First Vice-President Frans Timmermans said today: “The European Court of Justice has recently reaffirmed that the rule of law is essential for the functioning of the EU. Its importance is also recognised by an overwhelming majority of EU citizens. However, it has come under attack in several ways in the past five years. The European Commission has been fighting hard to resist these attacks with the tools available to us, and will continue to do so. Today we have decided to further strengthen our toolbox, to promote, protect and enforce the rule of law.”

The Commission is today setting out concrete initiatives grouped around 3 pillars: promoting a rule of law culture; preventing rule of law problems; and responding effectively to breaches of the rule of lawAs guardian of the Treaties, the European Commission has a unique role. However, all Union institutions and Member States are responsible for guaranteeing the respect of the rule of law as a fundamental value of our Union. Beyond that, an effective response also requires the support of civil society. The Commission is also calling on all to act.

To promote a common rule of law culture across Europe, the Commission will follow up on the idea of a dedicated annual event for dialogue with civil society. It will make full use of funding possibilities to empower stakeholders, including civil society, to promote the rule of law, and set up a dedicated communication strategy on the rule of law. The Commission will strengthen cooperation with the Council of Europe and other international organisations, as well as with judicial networks and national parliaments. The Commission calls on the European Parliament, the Council and Member States to engage fully in this process.

To prevent rule of law problems from emerging, the Commission has decided to set up a Rule of Law Review Cycle, including an annual Rule of Law Report covering all EU Member States. This additional system will assist early detection of emerging rule of law problems wherever they appear. The Commission will deepen its monitoring of rule of law developments and invite all Member States to engage in a mutual exchange of information and dialogue, including through a network of national contact persons. There should be a dedicated follow-up on the annual report with the Parliament and the Council. The Commission will also further develop the EU Justice Scoreboard and strengthen the dialogue with other EU institutions, Member States, European political parties and stakeholders.

For an effective common response to rule of law breaches, the Commission will continue to make full use of its enforcement powers, if early detection and prevention measures are not effective. The Commission will adopt a strategic approach to infringement proceedings, bringing cases to the Court of Justice of the EU as necessary. In the light of the time sensitivity of such cases, the Commission will request interim measures and expedited procedures when needed. The Commission will also constructively support Member States in de-escalation and resolution of rule of law issues for the situation to be restored in a sustainable manner. In addition, the Commission calls on the European Parliament and the Council to reflect on a collective approach to managing Article 7 TEU cases with clear procedural rules.

The rule of law: a shared value for all Europeans

The results of a Eurobarometer public opinion survey released today show that citizens attach great importance to the respect of the rule of law:

  • More than 8 in 10 citizens say that effective judicial protection by independent courts, equality before the law and proper investigation and prosecution of corruption, are important to them.
  • More than 8 in 10 citizens say that the rule of law needs to be respected in all other Member States.
  • Over 80% of citizens in the EU support improvements regarding key rule of law principles.
  • A majority of citizens (56%) do not feel sufficiently informed about the rule of law situation.

The Eurobarometer also shows strong support for the role of media and civil society in holding those in power to account, with more than 8 in 10 citizens considering it important that media and civil society can operate freely and criticise the government without risk of intimidation.

Background

In its Communication of 3 April 2019, the Commission presented an overview of the existing rule of law toolbox and launched a consultation on the necessary reforms. Over 60 written contributions were received and debates and discussion were held within the EU institutions, with Member States, international organisations, judicial networks, civil society and academia. Today’s Communication takes into account this debate.

The European Union is based on a set of shared values, including fundamental rights, democracy, and the rule of law. These are the bedrock of our societies and common identity. No democracy can thrive without independent courts guaranteeing the protection of fundamental rights and civil liberties, or without an active civil society and free media ensuring pluralism.

The rule of law has a direct impact on the life of every citizen: it is a precondition for ensuring equal treatment before the law and the defence of individual rights, for preventing abuse of power by public authorities and for decision-makers to be held accountable. The rule of law determines how accountably laws are set, how fairly they are applied, and how effectively they work. It also covers institutional issues such as independent and impartial courts, and the separation of powers.

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

‘Stealing’ food from hungry Yemenis ‘must stop immediately’, says UN agency

US migrant children policy reversal, still ‘fails’ thousands of detained youngsters: UN rights experts

The 5 mistakes we’re making in the fight against global energy poverty

EU Commission expects consumer spending to unlock growth

EU-UK Statement following the High Level Meeting on 15 June

5 futuristic ways to fight cyber attacks

Remarks by Commissioner Lenarčič on the deployment of EU Medical Teams to Italy

How the digital finance revolution can drive sustainable development

IMF: When high yield goes boom

UN relief official in Yemen condemns ‘horrific’ attack on passenger buses

National parks transformed conservation. Now we need to do the same for the ocean

UN member states express their will to tackle global migration but specific actions are still missing

New UN-supported farming app is cream of crop in tackling Sahel pest

COVID-19: EU co-finances the delivery of more protective equipment to China

Parliament backs a modernised EU electoral law

Is your business model fit for the Fourth Industrial Revolution?

More efforts needed to boost trust in business and finance

3 reasons why Singapore is the smartest city in the world

Although Greece is struggling to pay salaries and pensions Varoufakis is “optimistic”; the Sting reports live from EBS 2015

A shipping industry leader explains how to keep supply chains moving amid a pandemic

EU and China in search of a win-win agreement through strategic cooperation ahead of the EU-China summit

Burning Amazon rainforests: Darting towards the doom of Human Race

FROM THE FIELD: ‘Hope’ on the horizon as UN Peacekeepers push deep into Mali

“Is Europe innovative? Oh, Yes we are very innovative!”, Director General of the European Commission Mr Robert-Jan Smits on another Sting Exclusive

Spread of polio still an international public health concern

New citizenship law in India ‘fundamentally discriminatory’: UN human rights office

EU unveils plan to accelerate Capital Markets Union ahead of London’s departure from the bloc

Mali just took a huge step towards universal healthcare

Women outliving men ‘everywhere’, new UN health agency statistics report shows

First-ever World Braille Day underscores importance of written language for human rights

The West and Russia impose a new order on the world

Praising Roma’s contributions in Europe, UN expert urges end to rising intolerance and hate speech

Security Council welcomes Yemen breakthrough, but lasting peace remains a ‘daunting task’

This woman changed the world of work – and you’ve probably never heard of her

Can Obama attract Iran close to the US sphere of influence?

UN launches plan to promote peace, inclusive growth in Africa’s Sahel

European Commission presents comprehensive approach for the modernisation of the World Trade Organisation

SMEs are driving job growth, but need higher investment in skills, innovation and tech to boost wages and productivity

Structuring Your Perception: The Key to a Good Mental Health during COVID-19

Does the world have strong enough institutions to handle risks like Trump and Brexit?

5 facts to know about Africa’s powerhouse – Nigeria

Prevention is key to ‘breaking the cycle of HIV transmission’, UN chief tells General Assembly

Trump’s Pandemic Failure: A Missed Opportunity

Greece: Tsipras’ referendum victory does not solve the financial stalemate of the country and its banks

5 lessons from China on how to drive sustainable growth

Public climate finance to developing countries is rising

Canada has the most comprehensive and elaborate migration system, but some challenges remain

How much time has the ‘European Union of last chance’ left?

Long-term EU budget: Parliament wants safety net for beneficiaries

Yemen: Security Council backs new mission in support of key port city truce

The result of European Elections 2019 seals the end of the business as usual era in Brussels

Syrian civilians must be protected amid ISIL executions and airstrikes: Bachelet

UN Committee says Ebola in DR Congo still an international public health emergency

OECD will follow Canadian proceedings addressing allegations of political interference in foreign bribery prosecution

Hunger in Yemen: WFP considers aid suspension in face of repeated interference by some Houthi leaders

Ten UN peacekeepers killed in a terrorist attack in northern Mali

New General Assembly President brings ‘valuable insights’ into key UN challenges

The G7 should take the lead on ocean targets for 2020

The DNA of the future retail CEO

‘Cataclysmic events’ in Hiroshima, Nagasaki, began ‘global push’ against nuclear weapons says Guterres, honouring victims

More Stings?

Advertising

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s