The European Commission (EC) has published its first ever report on the state of the rule of law in the EU 27 Member States (MSs). The report provides an overview of the situation in each MS based on criteria including independence of the judiciary and media pluralism. The report is intended to raise awareness of the importance of the rule of law in Europe, including in national parliaments and among civil society. In parallel, the report will be debated in both the European Parliament (EP) and Council, starting with a focus on Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark and Estonia. Future initiatives by the EC include a first annual conference on the rule of law, scheduled for 2021.
Meanwhile, the EU Council has agreed a mandate for starting negotiations with the EP on the EU budget including a controversial proposal to make rule of law compliance a condition for MSs to receive EU funds. The conclusions reached by EU leaders in July were ambivalent on this point. The EP has indicated its preference for a reverse qualified majority vote in Council in order to block any EC decision to sanction a MS considered to be in breach of the rule of law.
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