Comments Rule of Law

The Meijers Committee regularly publishes comments and policy briefs and subsequently shares them with politicians, policy makers, and the broader public. These comments and policy briefs serve as a legal and scholarly assessment of the impact of human rights and democracy of new European legislative proposals in the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice. You can find an overview of all our published comments, letters and policy briefs under this link. In the following section we publish comments that concern the rule of law situation in the European Union.

In this comment, the Meijers Committee discusses whether, and under what conditions, a Member State can exercise the Presidency in line with established legal and policy requirements while being under Article 7(1) TEU-monitoring initiated by the European Parliament and the Commission and while facing the rule of law related suspensions of EU funding after the Council decided to put these in place. To this end, the Meijers Committee identifies three possible avenues to minimise the risk that unresolved rule of law problems and other violations of fundamental values of Article 2 TEU in a Member State scheduled to exercise the Presidency will affect the proper functioning of the Council of Ministers, its cooperation with other EU institutions, and the functioning of the EU more widely. The central argument of the comment is that various actionable options exist, and that they should be used by the Council and the other EU institutions to protect the integrity of the Council’s functioning, and that of the EU more generally.

This brief analyses what the EU institutions should do to safeguard free and fair elections in EU Member States. Electoral campaigns within the Union are increasingly manipulated by incumbent governing parties, which negatively impacts the functioning of the EU and questions its democratic foundations. Our Committee recommends amongst others a stronger link between the protection of free and fair elections and rule of law framework of the EU.

Media pluralism is indispensable for a well-functioning democracy. Yet, the EU has been unable to effectively counter illiberal trends in an increasing number of Member States, even if they are widely perceived as jeopardising media pluralism. Contrary to other areas of the rule of law, the European Commission has not brought any infringement case relating to media pluralism as a rule of law issue before the CJEU. The European Commission justifies its legal inaction with an insufficient legal toolbox and stating that it is, in fact, making the most of the tools at its disposal. We question this assumption and outline existing avenues for EU legal action to protect media pluralism in this report.

This note discusses the suspension of EAW surrenders between EU member states and their implications for the rule of law situation in Poland. Pending a preliminary ruling of the EU Court of Justice, the District Court of Amsterdam has provisionally suspended all surrenders to Poland. Recently also a German court has refused to execute a European arrest warrant from Poland.

This note catalogues existing instruments, procedures, policies and tools available inside and outside the EU-setting to protect the rule of law inside EU Member States and at the EU-level itself. It distinguishes tools and procedures that are currently used, on the one hand, and those that exist but have not so far been put into practice toward the goal of addressing rule of law issues, on the other. The goal is to provide policy makers and politicians committed to protecting and promoting the rule of law in the EU with a comprehensive overview of realistic and actionable possibilities.

In view of persisting worrying developments concerning the rule of law in Poland and Hungary, our Committee has delivered an opinion about the possibility of starting an interstate legal procedure against these two countries for a systematic failure to respect the rule of law. We recommend a coalition of EU Member States to bring an interstate complaint before the Court of Justice of the EU on the basis of 259 TFEU.