The protection of fundamental rights in the EU: European Parliament achievements during the 2014-2019 legislative term and challenges for the future

17-04-2019

In the years between 2014 and 2019, the EU has faced serious challenges related to the protection of fundamental rights within its territory, notably in connection to the Rule of Law (RoL) and democracy in some EU Member States. The Commission and the European Parliament (EP), led by the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE), have addressed these challenges by activating - for the first time since its introduction in the Treaties - the procedure foreseen in art. 7.1 TEU, respectively against Poland and against Hungary. The EP has also consolidated its former requests under the proposal for an EU mechanism on Democracy, the Rule of Law and Fundamental rights (EU DRF Pact). Important legislative dossiers on procedural rights were approved (presumption of innocence, safeguards for children in criminal proceedings, legal aid). While the EP continued to report annually on the situation of fundamental rights in the EU and on traditional issues of interest (among which minorities, Roma, anti-Semitism, right-wing extremism, prisons, media freedom, as well as follow up activities on mass surveillance and CIA), it has also addressed new issues, such as protection of whistle-blowers (a Commission proposal was issued following insistence of the EP), islamophobia, afrophobia and fundamental rights of intersex persons. The EP has also adopted resolutions on the situation in specific Member States, such as Malta, Slovakia, Romania, expressing Rule of Law concerns. Among the challenges that remain open for the next term are the art. 7 TEU procedures against Hungary and Poland, the strengthening of the protection of art. 2 TEU values including through the promotion of the EU DRF Pact, the EU accession to the ECHR, the enhancement of the EU and EP monitoring mechanisms, the adoption of pending files, including the Rule of Law conditionality for EU funds, the Rights and Values and Justice programmes, the equal treatment directive, the reform of the transparency regulation and, in the longer term; the reform of the Treaties.

In the years between 2014 and 2019, the EU has faced serious challenges related to the protection of fundamental rights within its territory, notably in connection to the Rule of Law (RoL) and democracy in some EU Member States. The Commission and the European Parliament (EP), led by the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE), have addressed these challenges by activating - for the first time since its introduction in the Treaties - the procedure foreseen in art. 7.1 TEU, respectively against Poland and against Hungary. The EP has also consolidated its former requests under the proposal for an EU mechanism on Democracy, the Rule of Law and Fundamental rights (EU DRF Pact). Important legislative dossiers on procedural rights were approved (presumption of innocence, safeguards for children in criminal proceedings, legal aid). While the EP continued to report annually on the situation of fundamental rights in the EU and on traditional issues of interest (among which minorities, Roma, anti-Semitism, right-wing extremism, prisons, media freedom, as well as follow up activities on mass surveillance and CIA), it has also addressed new issues, such as protection of whistle-blowers (a Commission proposal was issued following insistence of the EP), islamophobia, afrophobia and fundamental rights of intersex persons. The EP has also adopted resolutions on the situation in specific Member States, such as Malta, Slovakia, Romania, expressing Rule of Law concerns. Among the challenges that remain open for the next term are the art. 7 TEU procedures against Hungary and Poland, the strengthening of the protection of art. 2 TEU values including through the promotion of the EU DRF Pact, the EU accession to the ECHR, the enhancement of the EU and EP monitoring mechanisms, the adoption of pending files, including the Rule of Law conditionality for EU funds, the Rights and Values and Justice programmes, the equal treatment directive, the reform of the transparency regulation and, in the longer term; the reform of the Treaties.