An EU mechanism on democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights

In-Depth Analysis 27-10-2016

European Parliament legislative initiative reports drawn up on the basis of Article 225 of the Treaty on the Functioning on the European Union are automatically accompanied by a European Added Value Assessment (EAVA). Such assessments are aimed at evaluating the potential impacts, and identifying the advantages, of proposals made in legislative initiative reports. This EAVA accompanies a resolution based on a legislative initiative report prepared by Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) (rapporteur: Sophie in 't Veld (ALDE, the Netherlands), presenting recommendations to the Commission on an EU mechanism on democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights (P8_TA-PROV (2016) 0409). The main conclusion of the EAVA is that there is a gap between the proclamation of the rights and values listed in Article 2 TEU and actual compliance by EU institutions and Member States, resulting in significant economic, social and political costs. The root causes of this lack of compliance are to be found in certain weaknesses in the existing EU legal and policy framework on democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights. These weaknesses could be overcome by the conclusion of an EU Pact for Democracy, the Rule of Law and Fundamental Rights (DRF) in the form of an interinstitutional agreement (IIA). This IIA should lay down arrangements for (i) the development of an annual European report on the state of democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights in the Member States with country-specific recommendations assessing compliance with DRF, and (ii) a policy cycle for DRF, involving EU institutions and national parliaments, with country-specific recommendations aimed at monitoring and enforcing Member State compliance, including a DRF policy cycle within the institutions of the Union.  This could be done at relatively low cost, particularly if the right synergies are found with international organisations, whilst at the same time having significant benefits, notably fostering mutual trust and recognition, attracting more investment, and providing higher welfare standards.