A decade of destructive developments in Hungary and Poland showed that the EU is not able to fully protect its constitutional identity. The effectiveness of the individual rule of law instruments, as well as their combined impact, needs to be improved, both technically and politically.
Despite the expansion of their resources, the rule of law instruments proved vulnerable to political pressure and political discretion. Several measures threatening the vital interests of the member states concerned strongly politicised the dispute over the rule of law in the EU. Structural and systemic gaps created fertile ground for the deterioration of the rule of law in some EU member states. The EU institutions and the 27 member states face the challenge of establishing a uniform understanding of the rule of law as well as appropriate instruments to protect it.
To overcome shortcomings of the existing instruments, the policy paper provides impulses for increasing their effectiveness, monitoring them, harmonising the European understanding of the rule of law and supporting the social and democratic pillars of the rule of law. In addition to the clearly recognisable need for institutional reform, this also includes procedures within member states for building a democratic political culture, mobilising citizens and attracting media attention.
In cooperation with the EU Office Brussels of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES), the IEP has prepared a policy paper with a critical assessment of the existing instruments for upholding the rule of law in the EU member states and formulated precise recommendations of action.