Addressing violations of democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights

Briefing 11-09-2020

The common values of democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights (DRF) lie at the heart of the European integration process and are central to the values of the European Union (EU). In practice, however, individual and collective (lack of) Member State action can undermine these common values. This situation applied before the outbreak of the coronavirus crisis, but some of the national measures taken since the outbreak of the pandemic have tested the resilience of these values further. More generally, the EU's response to DRF violations has so far not comprehensively tackled the problem. The status quo can result in impunity for criminal activities, as prosecutors are unwilling or unable to take on certain cases, as well as violations of human dignity and fundamental rights. It also denies opportunities for individuals to live out their human potential, and take advantage of economic opportunities, as well as eroding the basis for mutual trust among national administrative and judicial authorities. This Briefing puts forward a set of proposals aimed at enhancing the EU's resilience to DRF violations. It focuses in particular on possibilities for the European Parliament and national parliaments, with their dual mandate from EU citizens, to jointly strengthen their monitoring and investigative capabilities. In particular, they could build on their general resources to evaluate the implementation of (EU) law and further coordinate their tools to ensure the democratic accountability of Member State governments.