The EU is taking action to ensure that EU countries comply with the rule of law by introducing a “warning tool” to help resolve problems early on.
Procedures are already in place to deal with countries that persistently breach the rule of law—the principles of law enabling the EU’s fundamental values to be upheld, e.g. ensuring that all citizens are treated equally before the law and that public powers are exercised lawfully. At its most severe, Article 7 of the Lisbon Treaty allows the EU to suspend a country’s voting rights if there is a systematic breakdown in the rule of law.
However, the new framework will enable the EU to enter into dialogue with the country at an earlier stage, to help prevent the situation escalating to that level. Known as a “pre-Article 7 procedure”, it will be triggered whenever the threat of a systematic breakdown in the rule of law emerges, rather than for individual breaches.
The system will consist of 3 stages involving a continuous dialogue between the EU and the country concerned.
The EU has faced challenges to the rule of law on several occasions in recent years, including
The new framework gives the EU the tools to respond to such events more effectively and efficiently.