Opinion Factsheet  

Strengthening the rule of law within the Union A blueprint for action

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Opinion Number: CDR 3730/2019
Rapporteur: IACOP Franco
Commission: CIVEX
Status: Adopted
Date: 12/02/2020
 
to support the European Commission's proposal to create an annual monitoring system covering all Member States, based on objective and transparent parameters for proper monitoring of the rule of law;
to step up the involvement of the CoR, LRAs and civil society in promoting a culture of respect for the rule of law;
to ensure that LRAs are not unfairly hit by the sanctions in the case of funding conditionality;
to increase the funds currently allocated for civil society and independent media in the multiannual financial framework, with a part of this funding allocated to local independent media;
to restart the process of the EU's accession to the European Convention on Human Rights.

Local and regional authorities (LRAs) have an important role to play in strengthening the rule of law. LRA constitute a fundamental level of democratic legitimacy and should continuously promote a rule of law culture and monitor the compliance with the principles associated with it.

LRAs can contribute to the knowledge-building activities proposed by the Commission and can also act as sources of information for the monitoring it intends to carry out.

LRAs can contribute to the annual event for promoting the rule of law, proposed by the Commission, by hosting a series of meetings on the rule of law, at regional and national level, in advance of and in preparation for the annual event. The opinion suggests that the Commission could nominate a "rule of law city" every year, and that the annual event would be held there.
THE EUROPEAN COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS



- welcomes the Commission's proposal, which recognises and attaches great importance to the rule of law as a precondition for the European integration process and as a fundamental value of the EU, enshrined in the Treaties and common to the constitutional traditions of the Member States;

- supports the European Commission's proposal to create an annual monitoring system covering all Member States, highlighting the importance of objective and transparent parameters for proper monitoring. The CoR considers that these parameters should be based on the case law of the Court of Justice, the EU Justice Scoreboard models, the Venice Commission's Rule of Law Checklist and, more generally, on the experience gained by the bodies of the Council of Europe;

- urges the Commission to step up the involvement of the CoR, LRAs and civil society in promoting a culture of respect for the rule of law. LRAs can contribute to the annual event for promoting the rule of law, proposed by the Commission, by hosting a series of meetings on the rule of law, at regional and national level, in advance of and in preparation for the annual event; suggests that the Commission could nominate a "rule of law city" every year, and that the annual event would be held there;

- stresses the fact that funding conditionality should be seen as a solution only in cases of serious and systemic breaches and calls again on the Commission for measures to ensure that LRAs are not unfairly hit by the sanctions;

- considers that the funds currently allocated for civil society and independent media in the multiannual financial framework should be significantly increased, with part of this funding allocated to local independent media;

- welcomes the Commission's intention to restart the process of the EU's accession to the European Convention on Human Rights.

Importance

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Meeting with the Mr. Raffaele Sabato, European Court of Human Rights judge

On the 11 September 2019, Mr. Iacop met in Strasbourg, Mr. Raffaele Sabato, judge to the European Court of Human Rights in respect of Italy and discussed about the importance of objective and transparent parameters for proper monitoring the rule of law and about the key role of the case law of the Court of Justice in developing these parameters.

 
11 Sep
 

Exchange of views with the Bureau of the Chamber of Regions, Congres of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe

On the 11 September, Bureau of the Congress Chamber of Regions of Congres of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe invitated Mr Iacop, CoR rapporteur on the rule of law, to present his opinion. Chamber members represent authorities at a level between central and local government which have either self-governing or state-like powers.

 
11 Sep
 

Meeting with the Secretariat of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe

The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe is a pan-European political assembly which includes 636 members representing over 200,000 authorities in 47 European states.
Its role is to promote local and regional democracy, improve local and regional governance and strengthen authorities' self-government. It pays particular attention to application of the principles laid down in the European Charter of Local Self-Government. It encourages the devolution and regionalisation processes, as well as transfrontier co-operation between cities and regions.

 
10 Sep
 

Meeting with Olga Savran, Manager of the Anti-Corruption Network for Eastern Europe and Central Asia of the OECD

In preparation of his opinion, on the 6 September, Mr. Franco Iacop, COR rapporteur on the Rule of law, met Olga Savran, Manager of the Anti-Corruption Network for Eastern Europe and Central Asia of the OECD.

The discussion focused on the importance of the effective fight against corruption in the rule of law mechanism. The rule of law is crucial for stable democracy, social justice and domestic peace. Equally important is the confidence that citizens have in state institutions and their representatives.

Good governance and the fight against corruption require oversight not just from national institutions, but also from local, and regional communities and civil society.

 
06 Sep
 

Meeting with Julien Mousnier, Head of Unit, Citizens’ and Consummers’ Rights & Rule of Law, Secretariat General, European Commission

In preparation of his opinion, on the 5 September, Mr. Franco Iacop, COR rapporteur on the Rule of law, met Mr. Julien Mousnier, Head of Unit, Citizens’ and Consummers’ Rights & Rule of Law, Secretariat General, European Commission

The discussions focused on European Committee of the Regions role, as a key partner and coordinator in the protection of fundamental rights and rule of law, at the level of local and regional authorities, in the EU mechanism on democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights.

The local and regional authorities constitute an important level of democratic legitimacy and play a central role in the promotion of the culture of rule of law and in monitoring the respect of the principles connected to it.

 
05 Sep
 

Meeting with Christine Roger, Director-General, Justice and Home Affairs, Council of the European Union, General Secretariat

In preparation of his opinion, on the 5 September, Mr. Franco Iacop, COR rapporteur on the Rule of law, met Ms. Christine Roger, Director-General, Justice and Home Affairs, Council of the European Union, General Secretariat

The discussions focused on: how the rule of law tools of the EU be strengthened and developed, on finding new ways to identify possible deficiencies earlier and prevent them and on role of local and regional authorities in the promotion of the culture of rule of law.

 
05 Sep
 

Meeting with the Mr. Jan Mulder, Chairman of Supervisory Committee of OLAF

On the 4 September, Mr. Franco Iacop, COR rapporteur on the Rule of law met Mr. Jan Mulder, Chairman of the Supervisory Committee of OLAF and Mr. Rafael Muñoz, member of the Supervisory Committee of OLAF.
The Supervisory Committee of OLAF was established to reinforce and guarantee OLAF's independence by regularly monitoring the implementation of OLAF's investigative function.
The Committee comprises 5 independent outside experts (with the qualifications required in their respective countries for senior posts relating to OLAF's work) appointed by common agreement of the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission for 5 years.
The discussions focused on role of local and regional authorities (as well as their associations and the CoR as their EU-level representation) in 'strengthening' the rule of law and in preventing fraud and corruption against the EU's financial interest.

 
04 Sep
 

Meeting with Mr. Emmanuel Crabit, Director, Fundamental rights and rule of law, Directorate-General for Justice and Consumers, European Commission

In preparation of his opinion, on the 4 September, Mr. Franco Iacop, COR rapporteur on the Rule of law, met Mr. Emmanuel Crabit, Director, Fundamental rights and rule of law, Directorate-General for Justice and Consumers, European Commission.

The discussion focused on how should the rule of law tools of the EU can be strengthened and developed and which are the roles of different European actors in ensuring that the rule of law is respected.

 
04 Sep
 

Meeting with the representatives of European Trade Union Confederation

In preparation of his opinion, on the 4 September, Mr. Franco Iacop, COR rapporteur on the Rule of law, had a meeting with Ms. Isabelle Schömann (Confederal Secretary) and Mr. Stefan Clauwaert (Senior Legal and Human Rights Advisor), representatives of European Trade Union Confederation.

The discussions focused on the role of social partners and civil society, in promoting and supporting rule of law, democracy, countering disinformation and maintaining open societies, at local and regional level.

 
04 Sep
 

Meeting with Non-governmental organizations active in field of media and journalism

In preparation of his opinion, on the 4 September, Mr. Iacop, CoR Rapporteur on the rule of law, hosted a debate with the main non-governmental organizations active in field of media and journalism.

The main topics of the debate were: the strengthening the role of local media in raising citizens' awareness of the importance of the rule of law, the financial support to independent media and the role of media at local and regional level in supporting democracy, countering disinformation and maintaining open societies.

 
04 Sep
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