European Union: rule of law report must be followed by action

The ICJ today welcomed the first annual rule of law report of the European Commission, which analyses the compliance of all EU Member States with rule of law standards, including on judicial independence, freedom of the media and civil society.

The report is a welcome recognition that rule of law guarantees cannot be taken for granted in any European country, and that all EU institutions must be particularly vigilant in their defence.

But the ICJ warns that the report is only valuable if it leads to strengthened EU enforcement action to address the serious rule of law crises in Poland and in Hungary.

“This report is further testimony to the actions of governments of Poland and Hungary, to deliberately and systematically dismantle protections for judicial independence and other essential rule of law protections,” said Róisín Pillay, ICJ Europe and Central Asia Programme Director.

“We need the EU to use its powers of enforcement promptly and to the full, to defend these fundamental guarantees, including through prompt progression of Article 7 and enforcement proceedings. It is welcome that the European Commission calls on Member States to accelerate the resolution of problems raised under the Article 7 proceedings against Poland and Hungary. This report should lead to renewed efforts of all the institutions to urgently progress these proceedings,” she added.

Additional information

The full text of the European Commission report is available here: https://ec.europa.eu/info/publications/2020-rule-law-report-communication-and-country-chapters_en

The International Commission of Jurists has repeatedly expressed serious concern at the deteriorating rule of law situation in both Poland and Hungary, see for example:

https://www.icj.org/poland-judges-and-lawyers-from-around-the-world-condemn-rapidly-escalating-rule-of-law-crisis/

And here: https://www.icj.org/european-union-icj-joins-call-for-urgent-eu-response-to-hungarys-covid-19-emergency-law/

Contact:

Róisín Pillay, ICJ Europe and Central Asia Programme Director, t: +32 476 97 42 63; e: roisin.pillay@icj.org

Karolina Babicka, Legal Adviser, ICJ Europe and Central Asia Programme, t: +32 475 46 20 67; e: karolina.babicka@icj.org

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