Thursday

3rd Dec 2020

Opinion

Rule-of-law deal: major step for Europe of values

  • At the very moment when an incumbent president was carrying out staggering attacks on the foundations of democracy, the European Parliament obtained a historic agreement to protect the rule of law in Europe (Photo: Gage Skidmore)

In recent days, the eyes of the world have been fixed on the US elections. And yet, at the very moment when an incumbent president across the Atlantic was carrying out staggering attacks on the foundations of democracy, the European Parliament obtained a historic agreement to protect the rule of law in Europe.

The battle we have just won is not against this or that.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • Dacian Cioloș: 'Europe is not just a cash machine, even if some people dream of it' (Photo: European Parliament)

It is a deterrent to defend the rights of citizens from west to east, from north to south.

The European Commission will now be able to suspend funding, including from the recovery fund established in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, for countries that do not respect the values set out in Article 2 of the Union Treaty.

This article needs to be re-read, especially in times of budgetary negotiations.

The latter sometimes give the impression that our Union is a club of carpet merchants. This is not the case!

Europe is not just a cash machine, even if some people dream of it.

As a young Romanian student in the 1990s, my enthusiasm for Europe was driven by its ideals of freedom, democracy and humanist values. It remains intact.

In today's world, where autocratic vocations are multiplying, we must recall the wealth of this model, and defend it.

The demonstrations in Bucharest in 2017 against Liviu Dragnea's regime showed it: citizens no longer want a leaden blanket, plagued by corruption, the seizure of power and the misuse of justice.

Europe 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". It must uphold them.

Pluralism, non-discrimination, tolerance, independence of the judiciary, solidarity and equality between men and women: these rights forge our identity.

'Muzzle judges, ban abortion'

Whether the Polish government likes it or not, whether it wants to muzzle its judges or ban abortion, all EU countries have signed up to these principles.

Part of the political class has turned attacks on Europe and its values into a business, capitalising on crises and fears. The red line is now clear: not one euro for those forces that want to destroy our most fundamental principles.

In an objective, non-partisan way, the EU Commission is charged with taking stock of the state of the rule of law. It will no longer be enough to cry wolf. It will be necessary to act. It will have the power to do so.

Parliament will ensure that it uses it, without penalising farmers, entrepreneurs, researchers and NGOs whose governments have embarked on an illiberal course.

This protection is a real change of direction, which I hope will soon prove its effectiveness.

It echoes the civil society movements that carry the ideal of Europe, a community of values. The Union will then be able to emerge as a real power where material prosperity is all the more solid when it is accompanied by shared values and a shared vision of the world.

Author bio

Dacian Cioloș MEP is a former prime minister of Romania and the leader of the liberal Renew Europe group in the European Parliament.

Disclaimer

The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author's, not those of EUobserver.

Deal reached on linking EU funds to rule of law

The deal means MEPs and the German EU presidency unblocked a major political hurdle to agreeing on the €1.8 trillion long-term EU budget and coronavirus recovery package.

Orban's bluffing on a rule-of-law mechanism - here's why

Viktor Orban is threatening to block the coronavirus recovery fund and the next EU budget if rule-of-law conditionalities are not to his liking. But a lack of EU funding would threaten the very fundamentals of his system and his cronies.

EU's opportunity to curb online politics ads

Beyond privacy, the EU should equalise political party access to online ads and improve the oversight of digital campaigning. It can borrow from how governments have curbed big money in politics.

News in Brief

  1. Valéry Giscard d'Estaing dies from Covid-19 complications
  2. Belgium expelled 15,000 EU nationals in recent years
  3. Centre-right EU lawmakers want to kick out Fidesz MEP
  4. Slovak journalist's killer gets longer sentence
  5. Egyptian leader embarks on 'execution spree'
  6. Covid-19: UK first to approve Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine
  7. Car kills five people in German town's pedestrian zone
  8. UK warns no-deal Brexit still possible

The human cost of whistleblowing

The fate of Jonathan Taylor, a British whistleblower stuck in legal limbo in Croatia, is a test of European laws designed to protect those who put themselves at risk for the common good.

EU vs US tech agenda under Biden

What will the new Joe Biden administration bring to the realm of digital policy, and how will it affect the relationship with the EU?

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersReport: The prevalence of men who use internet forums characterised by misogyny
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic climate debate on 17 November!
  3. UNESDAMaking healthier diets the easy choice
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersUN Secretary General to meet with Nordic Council on COVID-19
  5. UNESDAWell-designed Deposit Return Schemes can help reach Single-Use Plastics Directive targets
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council meets Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tichanovskaja

Latest News

  1. EU keen to repair damage of Trump years
  2. Szájer 'sex party' coverage shows Orbán's media control
  3. EU commission mulls ways round Hungary-Poland block
  4. Revealed: Hit to EU mental health services during Covid-19
  5. MEPs seek parliament inquiry into Frontex
  6. Erdoğan to face human rights scrutiny next week, EU says
  7. 2020 Prague European Summit: 'Real solutions, acting together'
  8. Nationwide protests reveal awakening of Poland's youth

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us