Today, ALDE Group Vice-President Sophie in ‘t Veld MEP submitted, in the European Parliament, her legislative initiative report for a binding pact on the protection of democracy, rule of law and fundamental rights (DRF) in the European Union, both in the Member States and the EU Institutions.
Currently, the European Union has few credible and effective means of scrutinising and enforcing compliance with the European values, as enshrined in the first articles of the Treaties. The DRF Pact prepared by rapporteur Mrs In 't Veld proposes a system for monitoring compliance with EU values and principles that is objective, evidence based and applied in an equal, non-political way to all Member States. It will build on the Justice Scoreboard and the Rule of Law Mechanism, as well as incorporate existing instruments, such as the cooperation and verification framework for Bulgaria and Romania.
Commenting this morning, Sophie in ‘t Veld said:
“Europe is not just a single market, Europe is a community of values. A community built on trust and the belief that everyone deserves the same rights and protection. Those values are currently under pressure, which is why we have to stand up and act decisively against violations of press freedom, LGBTI rights and to protect the independence of the judiciary. It is time we regain confidence in Europe and I hope this legislative initiative is a first step.”
In 't Veld points out that upholding European standards regarding the rule of law generates mutual trust, which is essential for the good functioning of all EU policy areas, such as police and justice cooperation, the single market or asylum and immigration policies.
“Recently, we have seen Commissioner Timmermans intervene in Poland, while ignoring the deterioration of fundamental rights in Hungary. We cannot let the decision to act be led by political considerations, but instead it should be based on an objective, impartial and transparent assessment. Every Member State should be treated equally.”
ALDE proposes a binding pact that merges and streamlines existing instruments and procedures. The pact should pave the way for the never activated Article 7 procedure:
“In practice, Article 7 has remained untouched. This pact will operationalise it by giving support for its activation. The EU has to adhere to the obligation to its citizens to intervene as soon as a member state violates gay rights or press freedom or impinges upon the independence of the judiciary. Fundamental rights have to become just as enforceable as the European budget rules, the Stability and Growth Pact and emission norms.”
By means of a public consultation, In 't Veld is collecting responses from civil society in order to solidify the legislative initiative report.'
"Setting standards is not a one off decision, but an ongoing, open and inclusive process, involving and inviting citizens, civil society, experts and of course national parliaments."
You can express your opinion here and read the full report here.