The EU should offer a more comprehensive response to rule of law breaches

The European Economic and Social Committee has called on the EU to adopt a more proactive approach to tackling the increase in breaches of the rule of law across the EU, amid concerns that they could escalate into a full-blown crisis in democracy and fundamental rights and freedoms.

In an opinion adopted at its plenary session in June, the EESC asked for civil society organisations to be involved more effectively and directly in devising and implementing safeguards against the dismantling of the rule of law in the EU. Many of these organisations raise awareness and act as watchdogs or advocates, and as such are often the first to suffer at the hands of authoritarian governments.

Stressing that it has a special role to play and a duty to act when the activities of its own members and civil society at large are at risk within the EU, the EESC called for better protection for civil society organisations, alongside other key public watchdogs such as journalists, whistle-blowers and human rights defenders.

The opinion is the EESC's input into the reflection process on further strengthening the rule of law within the EU, proposed by the European Commission in a recent communication in which it invited all stakeholders to contribute to the debate.

The EESC said it welcomed the Commission's efforts to use the available means to strengthen the rule of law in the Member States, although it noted their shortcomings in preventing or correcting concerted attacks on fundamental rights and freedoms.(ll)