On 26 September the EESC held a conference on the European Commission's latest Rule of Law Report to discuss ways to ensure that the recommendations made in the report would result in tangible improvements in Member States.

The European Commission's 2022 Report on the Rule of Law for the first time ever entails country-specific recommendations concerning justice, corruption, media, and checks and balances. Progress has been uneven in the Union, and serious concerns remain in a number of Member States.

"The EU should always use all its tools – including budget – to address any new attack on democracy, the rule of law or human rights, as soon as they emerge, and wherever they happen" said EESC president Christa Schweng, opening the conference.

The European Commissioner for Justice, Didier Reynders, explained that "This year has shown again that anchoring a strong rule-of-law culture in the EU is fundamental. As we work together to help Ukraine defend its sovereignty and integrity, we can only remain credible if we protect the rule of law inside the European Union as well."

The conference was also an opportunity to present the second synthesis report from the EESC's Fundamental Rights and Rule of Law Group (FRRL), providing an overview of the country visits organised by the FRRL group to Denmark, Germany, Ireland, the Czech Republic, Spain, Cyprus and Lithuania in 2020 and 2021. Cristian Pîrvulescu, President of the FRRL Group, explained that "While democratic systems in the countries visited have generally shown a good level of resilience, the need for safeguards and effective checks and balances, including the role of watchdog played by civil society, has been clearer than ever."

In her closing remarks, Edita Hrdá, Permanent Representative of the Czech Republic to the EU, emphasised the importance of civil society: "Civil society is capable of bringing life to human rights. Promoting the Rule of Law is an ever-lasting task that requires not only our cooperation, but also constant vigilance." (gb)