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Fundamental Rights and the Rule of Law are key values of the European Union, as laid down in Article 2 of the Treaty on the European Union.
However, as Europe has been confronted with economic and humanitarianmultiple crises and growing uncertainties, the respect for these values is increasingly challenged and the European civil society is experiencing 'shrinking space' in several areas.
In July 2019, the European Commission published a Communication entitled 'Strengthening the rule of law within the Union – A blueprint for action', which details actions on the promotion, prevention, and response aspects. In this Communication, the Commission proposes to establish a "Rule of Law Review Cycle" to deepen its monitoring of rule of law related developments in the Member States, and inter alia to set-up "a yearly event on rule of law for dialogue with, and between, civil society organisations and policy-makers at EU level".
This falls in line with EESC proposals made in a series of key Opinions over the past years, and its setting up of a transversal Group on Fundamental Rights and the Rule of Law (FFRL) in 2018. The FRRL Group leads country visits and seeks tois tasked to provide a forum for European CSOs to meet and share their assessment on the state of fundamental rights, democracy and rule of law in the Member States.
This first FRRL Conference aims to:
- build on the main findings of the FRRL Group country visits;
- identify key trends and create a dialogue with all relevant stakeholders on transversal questions;
- discuss avenues for solutions with key actors in the area of fundamental rights, as well as the role the EESC could play as a channel for European CSOs.
During the Conference, three topics will be discussed in workshops with a view to identify trend in these areas and discussprovide better identification (early warning) and avenues for inclusive solutions:
- Media and narratives around fundamental rights and the rule of law
- Civic space
- Discriminated groups