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European control mechanism on the rule of law and fundamental rights

EESC opinion: European control mechanism on the rule of law and fundamental rights

Key points

The EESC

  • is alarmed by the populist and authoritarian drift that is spreading across Europe, and by the risk this poses to democracy and fundamental rights. The EU is a union of common values (Article 2 TEU), but developments have shown that the European Union lacks adequate instruments to safeguard these values.
  • encourages the Commission to defend the EU's values in all Member States, using the existing 2014 framework to the fullest extent and recommends the adoption of a Council decision reinforcing the framework.
  • believes that all Member States should be assessed on a regular basis, in order to verify compliance with the EU's fundamental values to avoid break down of mutual trust.
  • considers it vital to create a legally binding European mechanism, a framework actively involving the Commission, the Parliament and the Council and in which the EESC plays an important role representing civil society. This mechanism will complement the Commission's framework and the Council's intergovernmental dialogue.
  • supports the EP idea of an European Union Pact on democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights (DRF). The EESC should be included in this pact, enabling a civil society debate at the EESC and have a role in the proposed DRF semester. The mechanism should be based on indicators, taking into account that fundamental economic, social and cultural rights are "indivisible" from civil and political rights.
  • might contribute by fact-finding missions in cooperation with local civil society, setting up a permanent study group, organising hearings, drafting opinions and reports, organising an annual forum to review the situation of democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights, and drawing up proposals and recommendations.