Tag Archives: rule of law

EU Commission issues Rule of Law report

Brussels 20.07.2021 Today Commissioner Didier Reynders sent a letter to Poland, asking the government to explain how it applies the interim measures and recent ruling of the Court of Justice of the European Union to safeguard judicial independence. “We will not hesitate to make use of our powers under the Treaties” the Commissioner said during his press-conference in Brussels.

The European Commission has today published the second EU-wide Report on the Rule of Law with a Communication looking at the situation in the EU as a whole and dedicated country chapters on each Member State. The 2021 report looks at the new developments since last September, deepening the assessment of issues identified in the previous report and taking into account the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Overall, the report shows many positive developments in Member States, including where challenges identified in the 2020 report are being addressed. However, concerns remain and in certain Member States these have increased, for instance when it comes to the independence of the judiciary and the situation in the media. The report also underlines the strong resilience of national systems during the COVID-19 pandemic. This pandemic also illustrated the importance of the ability to maintain a system of checks and balances, upholding the rule of law.

“The Rule of Law Report is a useful preventive tool that has stimulated needed debate among the Member States and other actors,” Vice-President for Values and Transparency, Věra Jourová, said. “The second edition shows that Member States can make progress to address rule of law matters. Yet this has been uneven and there are causes for serious concern in a number of Member States, especially when it comes to the independence of judiciary. Moreover, two journalists were murdered over the past months – this is not acceptable. The report calls for decisive action to improve media freedom and pluralism. Over the next year, we expect the findings of the 2021 report to nourish discussions between Member States as they work to strengthen the rule of law.”

“Over this past year, the 2020 Rule of Law Report has encouraged positive reforms related to the rule of law in a number of Member States” Commissioner for Justice, Didier Reynders underlined. “Moreover, the Council of Ministers used it to modernise its rule of law dialogue, with regular country-specific debates. I have also debated the report in 20 national parliaments. This year, we have further deepened our assessment, which benefitted from even more outreach than last year. The report can help us to have a real dialogue as a Union, side by side, in an honest and open spirit. This 2021 report, building on the one of last year, will foster this process.”

Hungary dabs HR Report “absurd”

Brussels 30.09.2020 Immediately after the Rule of Law presentation by the European Commission, the Hungarian government issued a communication, providing an assessment of the document, viewing it as highly subjective, and politically motivated tool serving other purposes than declared.

Commission’s Rule of Law Report is not only fallacious, but absurd. It cannot serve as a basis for any further discussion on rule of law in the European Union. The concept and methodology of the Commission’s Rule of Law Report are unfit for purpose, its sources are unbalanced and its content is unfounded.

The Commission’s Rule of Law Report makes no reference to objective benchmarks that apply equally to all Member States.

The choice of sources in the report is biased and non-transparent. It is unacceptable for the Commission’s Rule of Law Report to be written by organisations forming part of a centrally financed international network engaged in a coordinated political campaign against Hungary. The Hungarian chapter makes reference to twelve “civil society organisations”, eleven of which have in recent years received financial support from the Open Society Foundations linked to Mr. Soros.

Hungary is one of the few Member States where genuine pluralism prevails in the media, in ideological debates, and in the public sphere in general. Unlike the Western European media landscape, which is overwhelmingly dominated by leftist and liberal outlets, in Hungary the situation is more balanced, with conservative and Christian Democratic views also receiving meaningful coverage in the public sphere.

The Fundamental Law of Hungary and the country’s state structure are based on the rule of law. The protection of Hungary’s constitutional identity is the obligation of every organ of the state.

Objective and impartial analysis of all reliable information concerning the situation in Hungary can only lead to the conclusion that the fundamental values of the European Union are being respected, and that the rule of law is being observed”.

The European Commission has today published the first EU-wide report on the rule of law. Today’s report includes input from every Member State and covers both positive and negative developments across the EU. It shows that many Member States have high rule of law standards, but important challenges to the rule of law exist in the EU. It also reflects relevant developments stemming from the emergency measures taken by Member States due to the coronavirus crisis. The report covers four main pillars with a strong bearing on the rule of law: national justice systems, anti-corruption frameworks, media pluralism and freedom, and other institutional issues related to the checks and balances essential to an effective system of democratic governance.

Review: RULE Of LAW culture in EU

Brussels, 30 September 2020 The European Commission has today published the first EU-wide report on the rule of law. Today’s report includes input from every Member State and covers both positive and negative developments across the EU. It shows that many Member States have high rule of law standards, but important challenges to the rule of law exist in the EU. It also reflects relevant developments stemming from the emergency measures taken by Member States due to the coronavirus crisis. The report covers four main pillars with a strong bearing on the rule of law: national justice systems, anti-corruption frameworks, media pluralism and freedom, and other institutional issues related to the checks and balances essential to an effective system of democratic governance.

The aim of the new Rule of Law Report is to enlarge the existing EU toolbox with a new preventive tool and kick-start an inclusive debate and rule of law culture across the EU. It should help all Member States examine how challenges can be addressed, how they can learn from each other’s experiences, and show how the rule of law can be further strengthened in full respect of national constitutional systems and traditions.

“The rule of law and our shared values are the foundation of our societies. They are part of our common identity as Europeans. The rule of law protects people from the rule of the powerful. While we have very high rule of law standards in the EU, we also have various challenges. The European Commission will continue working with the national authorities to find solutions, to guarantee people’s everyday rights and freedoms,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said.

“Today we are filling an important gap in our rule of law toolbox. The new report for the first time looks at all Member States equally to identify rule of law trends and help to prevent serious problems from arising. Each citizen deserves to have access to independent judges, to benefit from free and pluralistic media and to trust that their fundamental rights are respected. Only then, can we call ourselves a true Union of democracies,” Vice-President for Values and Transparency, Věra Jourová, said.

“The new Rule of Law Report is the start of an open and regular dialogue with every Member State, a way in which we can share good practices and pre-empt challenges before they become entrenched. The goal is to instil a real rule of law culture across the European Union, and trigger a genuine debate at national and EU level,” Commissioner for Justice and Consumers, Didier Reynders, said.

MEPs debate Rule of Law in Hungary

The Chairman of Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) Committee of the European Parliament Juan Fernando Lopez Aguilar expressed his disappointment with the low attendance at the hearing on Rule of Law in Hungary, taking place on November 21 in Brussels. During the hearing the Finnish presidency representative Marja Rislakki reported on the results of the previous discussion, and announced the issue would be further presented to the General Affairs Council on December 10
to consider Article proceedings against Hungary.

The Article 7(1) procedure triggered by the European Parliament should assess if Hungary is at risk of breaching the bloc core values. According to milestone “Sargentini report” issued in September 2018 named after Green MEP rapporteur, the judicial independence, freedom of expression, corruption, rights of minorities, and the situation of migrants and refugees are in jeopardy.

The majority of four fifths among member-states would be sufficient to launch the procedure foreseen in Article 7 of the EU Treaty, which might trigger sanctions, such as the suspension of the country’s voting rights in the Council. However the Finnish representative Ms.Rislakki acted with reserve, reluctant to anticipate the outcome of the December meeting, and promising to deliver MEPs opinions to the Council, she added that’s during December Council hearing the new developments in Hungary will be also discussed.

At present the Fidesz party has delayed the judiciary reform, which caused the EU outrage, namely highly criticised system of administrative courts to deal with sensitive public administration lawsuits. However the MEPs has criticised Viktor Orban government, claiming the moving of the Central European University (CEU) to Vienna is symbolising the level of ‘unfreedom’ in Budapest,

Among a few MEPs, showing interest to the subject, the Renew Europe MEP Ramona Strugariu (shadow rapporteur) has put forward a request to participate in the General Affairs Council, explaining her wish in the line of “cooperation” between the European institutions.

While taking a floor the Hungarian MEP Baslazs Hidveghi (Fidesz, EPP) denied any problems with the Rule of Law, explaining that in the EU the issue is interpreted in politically bias manner, used by the Liberal left in an asymmetric attack on Orban government for refusal of migrants relocation. According to the opinion, widespread among Hungarians, the Liberal left has focused on his country in an unprecedented way, imposing requests, which no other member of the bloc has ever faced, Hidveghi underlined. And the reason for this pursuit is in their discontent with the Hungarian attachment to the Christian values, and the determination to conduct sovereign policies, MEP concluded.

MEPs for suspension of Turkey accession talks

Following years of severe political and democratic backsliding, the European Parliament recommended suspending EU accession negotiations with Turkey.

MEPs remain seriously concerned about Turkey’s violations of human rights, the rule of law, media freedom and the fight against corruption, authoritarian trends .

However MEPs welcome Turkey’s decision, last year, to lift the state of emergency introduced after the failed coup attempt in 2016. However, they regret that many of the powers granted to the President and executive following the coup attempt remain in place, and continue to limit freedom and basic human rights in the country. MEPs express concern about the shrinking space for civil society in the country, as a large number of activists, journalists and human rights defenders are currently in jail.

Taking into account the human rights situation and the new Turkish constitution, the European Parliament recommends that the current EU accession negotiations with Turkey be formally suspended.

 

Despite the serious situation, MEPs express their will to stand behind Turkish citizens, and keep the political and democratic dialogue open. EU funds must be made available – not via Ankara, but to Turkish civil society – for human rights defenders, students and journalists to promote and protect democratic values and principles.

 

 

IS militants families ordered repatriation to Belgium

A Belgian judge has ordered the relevant government offices to repatriate six children of Islamic State (IS) militants and their mothers who have been detained in a camp in Syria, the national news agency Belga said reported.

Tatiana Wielandt, 26, and Bouchra Abouallal, 25, both Belgian citizens, and their children have been held in the Al-Hol camp in since the defeat of Caliphate in nearly all territory it once held in Syria and Iraq.

Belga quoted the court ruling as ordering the government to take all necessary and possible measures to ensure the six Belgium citizens and their mothers can return home.

After a series of terrorist attacks Belgium has changed the rules, ordering anyone returning from the Levant a pre-trial detention and a three–five-year (and sometimes longer) prison sentence. In jail, these individuals are spread among the general prison population with individual security measures and monitoring, as well as constant assessment of radicalisation behaviour by trained staff and special units.

Furthermore, inmates are offered tailor-made disengagement programmes and probation measures to facilitate their return to society. The security services and local agencies receive relevant information from the prison authorities to ensure continued monitoring and adequate counselling.

Belga news agency did not inform about the further procedures concerning the group of IS members of the family.

Countdown to Brexit

“The parliamentary approval process for Brexit is going to be complex and possibly lengthy, a new report by academic think tank The UK in a Changing Europe and the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law finds.The Brexit Endgame comes out on the day marking six months to Brexit. It leaves the politics to one side and looks at the Brexit process as it will play out in the UK Parliament and the EU” says the report of Researchers from The UK in a Changing Europe and the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law.

“It is almost certain the deal will not be ratified until 2019. As Article 50 can be extended, the real deadline is 18 April, when the European Parliament breaks up for elections.

 UK Parliament:

  • Parliamentarians do not face a simple deal/no deal choice, the report finds.
  • Parliament will vote on the Withdrawal Agreement and the future relationship as one package. It will be presented to Parliament (as a motion) after it has been agreed with the EU
  • MPs can make procedural amendments to the motion. Substantive amendments would amount to a rejection.
  • If MPs reject the deal, the government can resubmit an amended version for approval.
  • Once the Brexit motion is passed, Parliament then has to approve a bill turning the Withdrawal Agreement into UK law, giving MPs a second opportunity to reject the deal. Without this bill, the deal will not come into force in the UK or EU.
  • If a deal can’t be reached or it can’t get through Parliament, there are three ways to trigger a general election:
    • if a two-thirds majority of MPs support one;
    • if the government loses a confidence motion and can’t regain the support of the Commons within two weeks;
    • by overturning the FTPA.

 

 European Union

  • Once a deal is reached, the European Commission will recommend it to the European Council which will then pass it to the European Parliament
  • The European Parliament will wait for the UK Parliament to pass the deal
  • If this happens, the deal will go to the EP’s Constitutional Affairs Committee before being voted on by a plenary session of MEPs
  • A simple majority of those present on the day is needed for it to pass
  • Once that happens, the European Council will then vote. The deal will need the support of at least 20 member states representing at least two-thirds of the EU population.

Researchers from The UK in a Changing Europe and the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law wrote two versions of the report – A detailed guide to the parliamentary process of withdrawal from the EU and a short guide.

Anand Menon, Director of the UK in a Changing Europe, said: “Given that most attention has been focussed on Brussels, we have tended to overlook the complex processes that await any Brexit deal that is agreed.  “These reports lay out in painstaking and meticulous detail what those processes consist of, and provide a salutary warning that, even should a deal be struck with the EU, the Brexit process will still have a long way to run.”

MEPs vote cutting Turkey accession funds

This week the European Parliament decided to cancel €70 million in pre-accession funds earmarked for Turkey, as conditions to improve the rule of law were not met.

Last November, during the budgetary negotiations, Parliament and Council intended to place in reserve €70 million in pre-accession funds for Turkey (€70m in commitments and €35m in payments), under the condition that “Turkey makes measurable, sufficient improvements in the fields of rule of law, democracy, human rights and press freedom, according to the annual report of the Commission.”

However, the European Commission annual report on Turkey published on 17 April 2018, concluded that “Turkey has been significantly moving away from the European Union, in particular in the areas of the rule of law and fundamental rights and through the weakening of effective checks and balances in the political system”.

The condition set by the budgetary authority has therefore not been met, MEPs underline.

They accordingly support the draft amending budget 5/2018, in which the Commission proposes transferring the €70 million earmarked for Turkey to reinforce the European Neighbourhood Instrument. This would be done through commitments– to cover actions linked to the Central Mediterranean migratory route and to fulfil part of the EU pledge for Syria – and to boost Humanitarian Aid by €35 million.

The report by Siegfried Muresan (EPP, RO) has been adopted with 544 votes, 28 against and 74 abstentions.

MEPs scrutiny of corruption allegations in Malta

On Thursday, January 25, MEPs from the Civil liberties committee and the Panama Papers special committee, which concluded its work by the end of 2017, will discuss the outcome of their recent visit to Malta to investigate the rule of law issues in the country as well as allegations of corruption and money laundering. The MEPs’ delegation led by Portuguese Socialist Ana Gomes (pictured) would now present its report and recommendations to the Committee of Civil Liberties and pursue “continued dialogue with the European commission in the run-up to an article 7 procedure”, a formal audit of the rule of law in an EU member state.

MEP Ana GOMES (S&D, Portugal) who led the delegation to Malta to draw the report, ahead of the hearing said:

From Strasbourg plenary

 

 

EU sets Poland on pariah track

The EU executive  Commissioner and First vice-president of the European Commission Frans Timmermans  launched an unprecedented process, triggering Article 7 of Lisbon Treaty to suspend Poland’s voting rights in the European Union after two years of dispute over judicial reforms that Brussels claims undermine Polish judiciary independence.

Polish government has three month ahead of them to abolish the judiciary reforms to avoid the so called “nuclear” opinion to lose voting rights within the EU. The visit of the incumbent Prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki to Brussels is forseen in January, however so far Polish government refused to bend to EU demands, insisting on their sovereign right to carve laws.  The move of the executive is largely interpreted as ‘anti-Polish’, and there are fears it will only deepen the growing gap between Brussels and Warsaw.

Many experts interpret the Commission’s selective application of Lisbon Treaty articles to fact of the growing longng of Poland for sovreignty, led by nationalist government of ight-wing Law and Justice (PiS) party.

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