The Russian invasion of Ukraine highlights the importance of advocating and defending fundamental European values. Yet, conflicts over common values have risen sharply within the EU in recent years. While a growing influence of illiberal and populist parties can be observed, particularly in Central and Eastern European states, the development is not confined to this region.
The results of the study "Value preferences and political trends in Central and Eastern Europe", published by the Institut für Europäische Politik (IEP), indicate that the policies of illiberal governments cannot or only partially be explained by society's value preferences. Instead, their authoritarian-populist rhetoric usually serves to mobilise their own supporters and secure power.
The rule of law is essential for ensuring the protection of fundamental European values. In the past, the EU has applied existing rule of law mechanisms and instruments too late and too tentatively. In the event of future rule of law violations in European member states, it is crucial to act earlier, to make full use of the toolbox and to apply it consistently. Germany, together with like-minded member states, must also actively campaign for the rule of law to be permanently placed at the top of the European as well as national agenda. Furthermore, in order to preserve the pro-European orientation of the populations in Central and Eastern Europe, civil society and cross-border cooperation must be substantially strengthened. German companies should also pay more attention to a functioning rule of law framework for their foreign investments.
Dr Anna Lührmann, Member of the German Bundestag, Minister of State for Europe and Climate at the Federal Foreign Office, Bündnis 90/die Grünen, and Dr Funda Tekin, one of the two directors at the Institut für Europäische Politik, discussed "Europe's illiberal challenge: value preferences and strategic populism in Central and Eastern Europe" during a digital Lunch Debate. The event was moderated by Dr Maria Skóra, senior researcher of the IEP project RESILIO - Resilience observatory on the rule of law in Europe.
The recording of the event is now available here: