21 Apr 2016

An EU mechanism on Democracy, the Rule of Law and Fundamental Rights

Petra Bárd / Sergio Carrera / Elspeth Guild / Dimitry Kochenov

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The European Union is founded on a set of common principles of democracy, the rule of law, and fundamental rights, as enshrined in Article 2 of the Treaty on the European Union. Whereas future Member States are vetted for their compliance with these values before they accede to the Union, no similar method exists to supervise adherence to these foundational principles after accession. EU history proved that this ‘Copenhagen dilemma’ was far from theoretical. EU Member State governments’ adherence to foundational EU values cannot be taken for granted. Violations may happen in individual cases, or in a systemic way, which may go as far as overthrowing the rule of law. Against this background the European Parliament initiated a Legislative Own-Initiative Report on the establishment of an EU mechanism on democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights and proposed among others a Scoreboard on the basis of common and objective indicators by which foundational values can be measured. This Research Paper assesses the need and possibilities for the establishment of an EU Scoreboard, as well as its related social, economic, legal and political ‘costs and benefits’.

CEPS Papers in Liberty and Security in Europe offer the views and critical reflections of CEPS researchers and external collaborators on key policy discussions surrounding the construction of the EU’s Area of Freedom, Security and Justice. The series encompasses policy-oriented and interdisciplinary academic studies and comment on the implications of Justice and Home Affairs policies inside Europe and elsewhere in the world. This paper was written at the request of the Impact Assessment Unit of the Directorate for Impact Assessment and European Added Value, within the Directorate General for Parliamentary Research Services (DG EPRS) of the General Secretariat of the European Parliament. It was published as Annex II of a larger report, commissioned by the European Parliament, entitled Assessing the need and possibilities for the establishment of an EU Scoreboard on democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights

Dr Petra Bárd, Assistant Professor, Eötvös Loránd University; Visiting Professor and Researcher, Central European University (CEU).
Dr Sergio Carrera, Senior Research Fellow and the Head of the Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) Section at the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS), Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Maastricht.
Prof. Elspeth Guild, Senior Associate Research Fellow at the CEPS; Jean Monnet Professor ad personam of European immigration law at Radboud University Nijmegen; Queen Mary, University of London.
Prof. Dimitry Kochenov, Martin and Kathleen Crane Fellow in Law and Public Affairs, Woodrow Wilson School, Princeton University; Professor of EU Constitutional Law, Groningen.
Author of the Thematic Annex is Prof. Wim Marneffe, Hasselt University, Research Group Policy Management.