The Rule of Law in the EU and the New Initiative – What Has Changed?

  • Abstract:

    “The Union is founded on the values of respect for human dignity, liberty, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities. These values, which are set out in Article I-2, are common to the Member States. Moreover, the societies of the Member States are characterised by pluralism, non-discrimination, tolerance, justice, solidarity and equality between women and men.” What remains unclear is why the rule of law in Article 2 is defined as a value, and several provisions later it appears as a principle. The use of the term value instead of the term principle points to a possible intention for introducing a new separation between the fundamental EU values, on one hand, and the fundamental legal principles of the EU, on the other. In March of 2014, when the former President of the EC Barroso introduced the new framework for safeguarding the rule of law in the EU, he said, inner alia, that: “the rule of law is one of the fundamental EU pillars…a pillar on which the Union is built.” What becomes obvious is that the EU gave primacy not only to the globally accepted model of the rule of law, but more importantly, it defined the improved, European model of the rule of law. The paper aims to enter in a broad analysis of the different views on the rule of the law in the EU, the UN, OSCE and the Council of Europe, and to give a certain input for a new initiative in context of the rule of law debate within the EU. The paper will also try to answer the question what this new initiative specifically contains, which are its challenges, what is its goal and what the EU will gain from its materialization.