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

02-10-2020

Article 2 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU) enshrines the Union's founding values. As these shared values are binding on Member States and the European Union (EU) institutions, several mechanisms have been created to promote them and ensure they are respected. EU institutions have made several proposals to strengthen the mechanisms. Parliament is due to vote during the October I plenary session on a legislative-initiative report proposing to integrate and reinforce them through an EU mechanism ...

Article 2 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU) enshrines the Union's founding values. As these shared values are binding on Member States and the European Union (EU) institutions, several mechanisms have been created to promote them and ensure they are respected. EU institutions have made several proposals to strengthen the mechanisms. Parliament is due to vote during the October I plenary session on a legislative-initiative report proposing to integrate and reinforce them through an EU mechanism on democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights (DRF).

Protecting EU common values within the Member States: An overview of monitoring, prevention and enforcement mechanisms at EU level

25-09-2020

This study analyses the existing and proposed mechanisms available to the institutions of the EU that may be deployed in order to monitor and enforce the observance of EU values by the Member States. More specifically, the study addresses the status and meaning of EU values (Article 2 TEU) and also discusses existing monitoring and preventive mechanisms (European Semester, EU Justice Scoreboard, Commission's rule of law framework, the Council's dialogues on the rule of law, and the preventive arm ...

This study analyses the existing and proposed mechanisms available to the institutions of the EU that may be deployed in order to monitor and enforce the observance of EU values by the Member States. More specifically, the study addresses the status and meaning of EU values (Article 2 TEU) and also discusses existing monitoring and preventive mechanisms (European Semester, EU Justice Scoreboard, Commission's rule of law framework, the Council's dialogues on the rule of law, and the preventive arm of Article 7 TEU) and enforcement mechanisms (preliminary reference rulings, infringement procedures and the sanctions arm of Article 7 TEU)). It also analyses a number of proposed mechanisms: the pact on democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights; rule of law review cycle; reviewed Council dialogues on the rule of law; and the rule of law budgetary conditionality.

Replacement of individual Commissioners

08-09-2020

On 26 August 2020, Commissioner Phil Hogan tendered his resignation to the President of the European Commission following controversy over his participation in an Oireachtas (Irish Parliament) Golf Society dinner attended by more than 80 people, despite the applicable Irish public health guidelines adopted to contain the spread of Covid-19 limiting gatherings to a fraction of that number. In addition, questions were raised as to whether he had complied with applicable restrictions on movements after ...

On 26 August 2020, Commissioner Phil Hogan tendered his resignation to the President of the European Commission following controversy over his participation in an Oireachtas (Irish Parliament) Golf Society dinner attended by more than 80 people, despite the applicable Irish public health guidelines adopted to contain the spread of Covid-19 limiting gatherings to a fraction of that number. In addition, questions were raised as to whether he had complied with applicable restrictions on movements after his arrival in Ireland. Although President Ursula von der Leyen had not formally requested his resignation, she accepted it and thanked Commissioner Hogan for 'his tireless and successful work' during the current mandate as Trade Commissioner and in his previous mandate as Agriculture and Rural Development Commissioner. Consequently, the procedure to replace him has started, with President von der Leyen requesting that the Irish government propose both a female and a male candidate. On 4 September, the Irish government proposed two candidates to replace Phil Hogan: Mairead McGuinness, current European Parliament First Vice-President, and Andrew McDowell, a recent European Investment Bank Vice-President. On 8 September, President von der Leyen announced she had chosen Mairead McGuinness, and that she would take over financial services, financial stability and the capital markets union from Valdis Dombrovskis. The latter would take the trade portfolio permanently (having already taken it temporarily in the meantime), while continuing in his role of Executive Vice-President. Parliament is now expected to organise hearings with both.

European added value of an EU mechanism on democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights - Preliminary assessment

23-04-2020

This preliminary European Added Value Assessment provides a comparison of the main features of the methodologies proposed by the European Parliament and the Commission on monitoring compliance with EU values. It reveals that though the Commission has made a significant step towards Parliament's position, four key differences in their approach remain. These notably relate to what is assessed, by whom and which follow-up is to be provided. The Parliament calls for an interinstitutional agreement in ...

This preliminary European Added Value Assessment provides a comparison of the main features of the methodologies proposed by the European Parliament and the Commission on monitoring compliance with EU values. It reveals that though the Commission has made a significant step towards Parliament's position, four key differences in their approach remain. These notably relate to what is assessed, by whom and which follow-up is to be provided. The Parliament calls for an interinstitutional agreement in accordance with which a Panel of Independent Experts should assess the state of democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights in the Member States. Based on this Report the Parliament and national parliaments as well the Council should be able to recommend follow up action to the Commission in terms of monitoring and enforcement. The Commission takes a more limited analysis of the rule of law into its own hands, relying on a network of Member State contact points. In view of its prerogatives, the Commission does not wish to be bound to a certain follow up.

Jewish communities in the European Union

23-01-2020

The Jewish population in the EU has been diminishing in recent decades, and has witnessed an increase in acts of anti-Semitism and anti-Jewish violence in recent years. In defence of its values, including respect for minorities, the EU undertakes and funds actions to counter anti-Semitism. This is a further updated version of an 'at a glance' note published in January 2019.

The Jewish population in the EU has been diminishing in recent decades, and has witnessed an increase in acts of anti-Semitism and anti-Jewish violence in recent years. In defence of its values, including respect for minorities, the EU undertakes and funds actions to counter anti-Semitism. This is a further updated version of an 'at a glance' note published in January 2019.

Outcome of the Special European Council (Article 50) meeting, 10 April 2019

12-04-2019

At the special European Council (Article 50) meeting on 10 April 2019, Heads of State or Government agreed to further extend the Article 50 period until 31 October 2019 at the latest. This goes beyond the request made by the UK Prime Minister, Theresa May (30 June 2019), but represents only half the time period some European Council members had been seeking to offer. The compromise found, which maintains unity amongst the EU-27, is esigned to reduce as much as possible the disruptive effects of the ...

At the special European Council (Article 50) meeting on 10 April 2019, Heads of State or Government agreed to further extend the Article 50 period until 31 October 2019 at the latest. This goes beyond the request made by the UK Prime Minister, Theresa May (30 June 2019), but represents only half the time period some European Council members had been seeking to offer. The compromise found, which maintains unity amongst the EU-27, is esigned to reduce as much as possible the disruptive effects of the Brexit negotiations on EU affairs at the start of the new institutional cycle. With the longer extension period – and if the Withdrawal Agreement, is not ratified by 22 May – the UK will be required to organise European elections. The decision excludes any reopening of the Withdrawal Agreement.

Ratifying the EU-UK withdrawal deal: State of play and possible scenarios

08-04-2019

On 14 November 2018, the European Union (EU) and the United Kingdom (UK) negotiators announced their approval of the legal agreement on the UK's withdrawal from the EU. At a special European Council meeting on 25 November 2018, EU leaders endorsed the draft withdrawal agreement, as well as the text of a non-binding political declaration setting out the framework for the future EU-UK relationship. While the process of approving the withdrawal deal (the agreement and the political declaration) began ...

On 14 November 2018, the European Union (EU) and the United Kingdom (UK) negotiators announced their approval of the legal agreement on the UK's withdrawal from the EU. At a special European Council meeting on 25 November 2018, EU leaders endorsed the draft withdrawal agreement, as well as the text of a non-binding political declaration setting out the framework for the future EU-UK relationship. While the process of approving the withdrawal deal (the agreement and the political declaration) began rapidly in both the UK and the EU, it immediately met with significant difficulties in the UK. In particular, the House of Commons' rejection of the withdrawal deal in the 'meaningful vote' of 15 January 2019, led to renewed UK attempts at renegotiation. Although the EU and the UK eventually agreed additional guarantees with respect to the Ireland/Northern Ireland backstop, the withdrawal deal was again voted down on 12 March 2019. Faced with the prospect of a 'no deal exit' on 29 March 2019, the initial Brexit date, the UK government, as instructed by the House of Commons, eventually requested an extension to the Article 50 negotiating period. On 22 March, the European Council extended the UK's EU Membership until 22 May 2019, on the condition that the UK parliament approved the withdrawal agreement by 29 March. As the House of Commons rejected the withdrawal agreement for a third time, the new Brexit date was instead set, under that European Council decision, at 12 April 2019. With a 'no deal' Brexit becoming a highly likely scenario, both sides stepped up their contingency planning. However, other outcomes remain possible, in particular a further Article 50 extension, given the UK Prime Minister's request of 5 April. The EU-27 are set to decide on this within the European Council on 10 April 2019, most likely on the basis of conditions set for the UK. While a parallel process for establishing a majority for an alternative solution to the negotiated deal is under way in Westminster, its outcome remains uncertain. Finally, although rejected by the government, the UK still has the option to unilaterally revoke its notification to withdraw from the EU, or to organise another referendum on the issue (the latter dependent on an extension). Please see also the parallel Briefing, Brexit: Understanding the withdrawal agreement and political declaration, of March 2019 (PE 635.595). And visit the European Parliament homepage on Brexit negotiations.

Brexit: Understanding the withdrawal agreement and political declaration

20-03-2019

In November 2018, the European Union (EU) and the United Kingdom (UK) endorsed, at leaders’ level, an agreement that would ensure an orderly UK withdrawal from the EU on 30 March 2019, as well as a political declaration setting out the main parameters of the future EU-UK relationship. The withdrawal agreement is an extensive legal document aiming, among other things, to preserve the essential rights of UK nationals living in the EU-27 and EU citizens living in the UK; to ensure that all financial ...

In November 2018, the European Union (EU) and the United Kingdom (UK) endorsed, at leaders’ level, an agreement that would ensure an orderly UK withdrawal from the EU on 30 March 2019, as well as a political declaration setting out the main parameters of the future EU-UK relationship. The withdrawal agreement is an extensive legal document aiming, among other things, to preserve the essential rights of UK nationals living in the EU-27 and EU citizens living in the UK; to ensure that all financial commitments vis-à-vis the EU undertaken while the UK was a Member State are respected; and to conclude in an orderly manner ongoing processes in various areas (e.g. circulation of goods already on the market and ongoing judicial procedures). Importantly, the agreement establishes a 21-month transition period, extendable once, to help businesses and citizens to adapt to the new circumstances, and the EU and UK to negotiate their future partnership agreements. During this time, the UK will be treated as a Member State, but without any EU decision-making and representation rights. Furthermore, one of the agreement’s three protocols, the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland contains a legally operational ‘backstop’, aiming to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland in the future. It has long been the most contested aspect of the withdrawal deal. The political declaration, by contrast, is a non-binding text, providing the basis for future EU-UK economic and security cooperation, taking into account both sides’ red lines and principles. With just days to go to the Brexit deadline, the procedures to approve the withdrawal deal have still not been finalised, due to continuing opposition within the UK Parliament. While extending the Article 50 negotiating period now appears highly likely, all scenarios are still possible, including the UK leaving the EU without a deal at the end of March 2019.

The EU framework for enforcing the respect of the rule of law and the Union’s fundamental principles and values

25-01-2019

This study, commissioned by the European Parliament’s Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs at the request of the AFCO Committee, examines the EU founding values and principles set out in Article 2 TEU and the instruments at the EU’s disposal to uphold them, in particular Article 7 TEU and Article 258 TFEU, as well as the Rule of Law Framework launched by the European Commission. Focusing on rule of law, the study also examines how these instruments have been used, in ...

This study, commissioned by the European Parliament’s Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs at the request of the AFCO Committee, examines the EU founding values and principles set out in Article 2 TEU and the instruments at the EU’s disposal to uphold them, in particular Article 7 TEU and Article 258 TFEU, as well as the Rule of Law Framework launched by the European Commission. Focusing on rule of law, the study also examines how these instruments have been used, in particular in the cases of Poland and Hungary. The study also looks into the proposals put forward by the Parliament and the Commission and gives recommendations: it proposes, in particular, the signing of the European Convention on Human Rights by the EU as well as the introduction of economic conditionality into EU Cohesion Policy and its funds as a sanction mechanism.

Autor externo

Diego LÓPEZ GARRIDO, Antonio LÓPEZ CASTILLO

The European Ombudsman: Reflections on the role and its potential

20-11-2018

The European Ombudsman is a body established to ensure that maladministration in the EU institutions is addressed and where possible remedied. From the establishment of the European Ombudsman, personalities and the open-ended character of the notion of maladministration have been relevant in shaping the activity of the office. Maladministration is widely accepted to be a sphere of inappropriate behaviour of the administration that goes beyond simple illegality. The particularity of the Ombudsman ...

The European Ombudsman is a body established to ensure that maladministration in the EU institutions is addressed and where possible remedied. From the establishment of the European Ombudsman, personalities and the open-ended character of the notion of maladministration have been relevant in shaping the activity of the office. Maladministration is widely accepted to be a sphere of inappropriate behaviour of the administration that goes beyond simple illegality. The particularity of the Ombudsman lies therefore on the fact that it is able, through the exercise of 'soft power', to tackle issues that would escape the scrutiny of the Court of Justice of the EU. This paper provides an overview of the activity of the Ombudsman, and attempts to identify the main areas of activity in quantitative terms, the main institutions to which the Ombudsman addresses inquiries and recommendations and highlights the proactive role exercised by this body so far. The compliance rate with the recommendations of the Ombudsman is rather high, although it would seem to decrease where the Ombudsman, by issuing critical remarks, exercises an 'educational' function. This paper also sets out some proposals to modify the Statute, with some less-extensive proposals, that would take into account already established practices, and other more far-reaching proposals, that would need however to be carefully considered so as not to distort the nature of the body.

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