Web conference – Cities and regional authorities : the cornerstone of the protection of rule of law within the EU

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visuel AG> Thursday 18 March, 10:00-12:00*

“The Union is founded on the values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities. These values are common to the Member States in a society in which pluralism, non-discrimination, tolerance, justice, solidarity and equality between women and men prevail.” as it is stated in Article 2 of the Treaty of the European Union.


This article (Art 2 TEU) seeks to guarantee that each Member State – and more precisely that each public authority within the Member States – carry out its actions with respect to the above-enumerated fundamental rights.


As during the recent years alerting breaches to the rule of law have been observed in some EU Member States, when presenting the key political orientations and goals of the Von der Leyen Commission in 2019, the President of the European Commission made the defense of the rule of law one of the main objectives of her mandate.


Measure the state of play of rule of law

In order to achieve such a goal, at the end of September 2020, the European Commission presented its first annual report that aimed to assess the state of play of the rule of law in all 27 Member States. This report is considered as a key monitoring tool. However, even if the Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) welcomed the annual rule of law report launched by the Commission, at the beginning of October 2020, they asked for more action concerning the enforcement. In light of the Parliament’s point of view, a report was adopted on 7 October, calling for a mechanism that consolidates existing instruments and establishes an Annual Monitoring Cycle, with country-specific recommendations, timelines and targets for implementation.


Rule of Law Conditionality Regulation

In parallel and complementary to these actions, the European Commission issued a legislative proposal in 2018 that seeks to defend the Union’s financial interests, in case deficiencies related to the state of pay of the rule of law are detected in the Member States.
This legislative procedure led to a recently negotiated rule of law conditionality that aims to secure a link between the EU funds and the respect of rule of law in the Member States.


The role of local and regional authorities in collaboration with the relevant European Institutions when it comes to enhancing and protecting the fundamental rights

In the context of breaches to the respect of rule of law and fundamental rights in some Member States (like Poland and Hungary) the role that local and regional authorities can play – regardless of their political affiliation – to enhance and protect fundamental rights and the rule of law is of crucial importance and pertinence. This pertinence is due to the fact that, the local and regional level is the level of governance closest to the citizens. Hence, it is at the local and regional level that elected officials can detect the concrete harmful effects of the non-respect of fundamental rights and the rule of law.

In order to support local and regional authorities in their actions, and enhance a multilevel and multi-stakeholder solution, European institutions also have a key role to play in working hand in hand with the local and regional level. For example, in light of the rule of law conditionality, European Institutions could have a role to play in guaranteeing that local and regional authorities are not sanctioned and deprived from funding if the national governments commit breaches to the rule of law.


Speakers

  • Introduction: Mr Willy Demeyer, Mayor of Liège, President of Efus
  • Introductory video message : Commissioner Didier Reynders responsible for portfolio Justice
  • The City of Budapest – Mr Benedek Javor, Head of the Representation of Budapest in Brussels
  • The City of Gdansk – Mr Piotr Borawski, Deputy Mayor responsible for the security portfolio

Moderation: Elizabeth Johnston, Executive Director of Efus


 

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* This web conference will take place as part of Efus’ General Assembly, for the full programme, visit this page.

2021-02-18

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