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Reinforcing the Rule of Law: What the European Commission’s Rule of Law Report Means for EU – Council of Europe Relations

30/09/2020 - 12:33
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“We have a duty to always be vigilant to care and nurture for the rule of law” says President von der Leyen. The European Commission’s adoption of its first annual rule of law report represents an opportunity for the EU to deepen its cooperation with the Council of Europe on its shared values.


The rule of law is one of the cornerstones of the European Union’s legal framework and helps guarantee the fundamental rights and values that the Union holds dear. On September 16, President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen reaffirmed the EU’s commitment to the rule of law by promising to publish the first annual rule of law report covering all EU member states. This report was made public earlier today.

The rule of law has tangible effects on the lives of all Europeans. It is applied at all levels of power. It ensures that human rights are not affected by either state or non-state powers nor influences.

The rule of law is a value of universal validity and to that end, the EU actively seeks likeminded partners in its pursuit to promote and strengthen rule of law standards, internally and externally. The EU is proud to share a history of cooperation with the Council of Europe on this issue, as the latter upholds the rule of law as one of the three core tenants of the organisation. Indeed, many of the findings in today’s report are based on rule of law recommendations from Council of Europe bodies such as the Venice Commission and the Group of States against Corruption (GRECO).

As all 27 EU member states are also members of the Council of Europe, maintaining high rule of law standards inside the EU plays a vital role with respect to external relations with the Council of Europe. The importance of these relations has grown given the fact that the EU has resumed negotiations with the Council of Europe for accession to the European Convention on Human Rights.

Today’s report follows the European Commission proposal to promote a 'rule of law culture' within the EU through various measures, and to prevent rule of law backsliding in the Member States by deepening its monitoring of Member States' compliance with the rule of law through a 'rule of law review cycle'. The adoption of the annual rule of law report summarising the situation in Member States as regards the rule of law represents the culmination of this cycle.