Through this Own-Initiative Opinion proposed by its Fundamental Rights and Rule of Law Group, the EESC expresses its deep concern regarding the way COVID-19 has impacted the life, safety, welfare and dignity of all of the people living in the EU and worldwide. The EESC recalls that the EU is based on common European values which are non-negotiable under any circumstances. Therefore, special measures to address the COVID-19 crisis should remain exceptional and time-limited and should not go against the rule of law or endanger democracy, the separation of powers and the fundamental rights of European inhabitants. The EESC insists on the importance of checks and balances like parliaments, independent judiciaries, and civil society in ensuring balances responses. It calls for an inclusive recovery process leaving no one behind and fostering participation, democracy and the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights.
Rule of law and the recovery fund (own-initiative opinion - FRRL) - Related Opinions
The EESC welcomes the Commission's Communication on Further Strengthening the Rule of Law within the Union. It regrets that the short reflection period has not allowed for deeper consultation. The EESC recalls the essential watchdog role played by the civil society, which should be further supported. It reiterates its support for an EU mechanism to monitor rule of law and fundamental rights and proposes to establish an EU stakeholders Forum to debate solutions. The EESC also calls on the Commission to adopt a Strategy on communication, education and citizen awareness concerning these key issues.
The EESC welcomes the proposal for economic corrective measures regarding Member States that commit serious violations of the rule of law in Europe, and recommends that the interdependence between democracy, fundamental rights and the rule of law is better reflected. The Commission should develop further channels for debate on Article 2 TEU values, and should include the EESC in this work. The EESC reiterates its call for the creation of a system of regular and independent monitoring of the implementation of these values in the Member States.
Alarming political decisions have shown that the EU lacks adequate instruments to safeguard fundamental values and the rule of law. A new European mechanism on the rule of law and fundamental rights is needed. The mechanism should include a regular assessment of Member States in a governance "policy coordination cycle", similar to the European Semester. The EESC should play an active role, as this will make for strong civil society involvement. The mechanism must be based on indicators, taking into account the indivisibility of fundamental economic, social and cultural rights and civil and political rights.