First Assessment of Rule of Law Report between MEPs and National Parliamentarians
On 10 November 2020, MEPs in the LIBE Committee discussed the Commission’s first Rule of Law report (separate news item) together with Didier Reynders, Justice Commissioner, and Michael Roth, Minister of State for Europe as representative of the German Council Presidency. In order to initiate the dialogue at the national level, members of national parliaments had the opportunity to submit comments or questions. Participants assessed how to make the most of the new annual democracy review in EU Member States. Also on the agenda: the way forward as regards the more comprehensive EP proposal on a Democracy, Rule of Law and Fundamental Rights mechanism (separate news item) and the impacts on checks and balances following the measures to fight the corona pandemic.
Some participants expressed disappointment that success with regard to Poland and Hungary – currently the countries being most closely watched with regard to the rule of law – were not included in the report and that the review of EU organisations and their actions under the rule of law was missing. In this context, it was emphasized that the report is only a preventive tool for the early detection of rule of law violations and needs to be supplemented by other measures, such as infringement proceedings or the new rule of law conditionality mechanism in relation to the EU budget (separate news item). In this regard, the efforts of the German Council Presidency were helpful in discussing the findings of the country reports with the individual Member States in the Council and discussions will be continued by the future Portuguese Presidency. In order to continue the debate in the national parliaments, Justice Commissioner Reynders will visit all national parliaments after an initial discussion in the German Bundestag. In addition, the Commission is working to prepare further reports on fundamental values such as democracy and fundamental rights.