The European Rule of Law Mechanism is a preventive instrument to promote the rule of law and prevent the emergence or deterioration of challenges. According to the United Nations definition, the rule of law is the principle that: These values appear to be under attack, according to MEPs who voted on a series of motions highlighting the risk of a violation of the principles of the rule of law. Two specific negotiating chapters are intended to help the enlargement countries to build a society based on the rule of law: in Brussels, the institutions are not concerned with defending democracy and the rule of law. Without them, they say, the Union is lost. But some politicians have been reluctant to crack down on the rule of law for fear of further harming the Union with more exits from the EU. For MEP Michal Šimečka, this should not be a consideration: in its annual rule of law report, the European Commission presented a plan to monitor abuses of the rule of law across the bloc. It states that the review “will serve as a preventive tool, to deepen dialogue and raise awareness of rule of law issues”. “Violations of the rule of law cannot be tolerated,” she said in her recent State of the Union address. The treaties set out Article 7, which is often referred to as the “nuclear option”. It is the EU`s sanction clause that allows it to discipline member states when there is a “clear risk of a serious breach” of the UNION`s fundamental principles, such as the rule of law.
In short, no person or politician is above the law, and the foundations of democratic society are based on this basic rule. In the event of a rule of law crisis, the Commission can trigger the rule of law framework to address systemic threats to the rule of law in EU countries. The EU is founded on the rule of law: every step it takes is based on treaties that have been voluntarily and democratically endorsed by all EU Member States. When countries respect the rule of law, their citizens, businesses, state institutions and the economy as a whole are protected from crime (including cybercrime). This means that law enforcement authorities must be properly trained and equipped to enforce the law in terms of fundamental rights and data protection rules. The rule of law has been increasingly scrutinised in Europe, but not everyone understands what is at stake. `The Union shall be founded on the values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights.` Following the public debate and reflection launched in April 2019, the Commission has taken steps to strengthen the rule of law in the EU. A new tool to control EU countries is the idea of linking access to EU funds to respect for the rule of law. But in recent years, citizens of EU countries have taken to the streets and protested what they saw as a democratic retreat.
National judicial systems play a key role in maintaining the rule of law, restoring confidence and returning to growth. It seemed that some EU countries were slowly touching one of the cornerstones of the Union. “In Europe, after the 2nd World War and the end of dictatorships in Portugal, Spain, Greece and again after the fall of the Berlin Wall, we have shaped our democratic societies according to three principles: democracy, respect for the rule of law and human rights,” said the former Commissioner for the Rule of Law, Frans Timmermans. He has often said that these three pillars of the EU are essential to the functioning of the Union. Each year, the European Commission provides an overview of how the rule of law is being implemented by candidate countries. Further details can be found in our current strategy paper and in the country progress reports. Orban called on Jourova to resign over “derogatory comments” about democracy in the country. She was quoted in the German magazine Der Spiegel as saying: “Mr Orbán often says that he is building an illiberal democracy. I would say that he is building a sick democracy. The rule of law is one of the fundamental values of the Union, enshrined in Article 2 of the Treaty on European Union. It is also a prerequisite for the protection of all other fundamental values of the Union, including fundamental rights and democracy. Respect for the rule of law is essential for the functioning of the EU itself: for the effective application of UNION law, for the proper functioning of the internal market, for the maintenance of an investment-friendly environment and for mutual trust.
The rule of law is based on effective judicial protection, which requires the independence, quality and efficiency of national judicial systems. MEPs are currently fighting with EU leaders over the clause. The issue also pitted EU countries against each other. The Netherlands said it wanted to see a clear rule of law mechanism in the latest trillion-euro stimulus package currently under discussion. While Hungary had threatened to veto such an initiative. The main conditions for EU membership, including the rule of law, are set out in the so-called Copenhagen criteria. The Commission has found different ways to limit setbacks. Attacks on media freedom and journalists in Hungary, Croatia, Slovakia and Malta. All new countries joining the EU must also respect the rights and obligations enshrined in the following: In 2017, Jean-Claude Juncker, then President of the European Commission, repeated the following: The battle between Budapest and Brussels was one of the most publicized. But while Article 7 was triggered against Hungary and Poland, little has been done so far.
The trial also led to hostilities between the powers in Brussels, Budapest and Warsaw. The negotiations cover a wide range of aspects of justice, internal security, fundamental rights and the fight against corruption and organised crime. “All persons, institutions and bodies, public and private, including the state itself, are accountable to the law” Countries wishing to join the EU must ensure that: Explicit protection is also necessary for vulnerable people – victims of crime, people belonging to minorities or fleeing persecution or serious harm in their own country and therefore in need of international protection. “Europe is more than just a single market. More than money, more than one currency, more than the euro. It has always been a question of values. In the run-up to the publication of the first report in September 2020, a battle broke out between Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and Commission Vice-President Vera Jourova. “Instead of fearing the withdrawal of more EU member states, we should be wary of rampant decentralised disintegration and a gradual erosion of trust affecting all levels of European cooperation.” The rule of law guarantees fundamental rights and values, enables the application of EU law and fosters a business environment favourable to investment. This is one of the fundamental values on which the EU is founded. The jury is not sure that freezing the funds will slow down democratic regression, but it would at least prevent the EU from funding it.
She promised to defend “the integrity of our European institutions”. Whether it is the rule of European law, freedom of the press, the independence of the judiciary or the sale of golden passports, “European values are not for sale,” she told MEPs. The EU Justice Scoreboard provides comparative data on the independence, quality and efficiency of national judicial systems. However, Hungary was not the only EU country under scrutiny. In Poland, Bulgaria and Romania, questions have been raised about the independence of the judiciary. As the upheavals of European democracy tormented her predecessor, the new Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen, promised to continue the fight. .