The EU establishes dialogue to promote the rule of law

On 16 December, the Council of the European Union agreed to establish an internal dialogue to follow up EU member states’ compliance with their commitments to the rule of law under EU treaties. The dialogue will be held on a yearly basis.

Minister of EEA and EU Affairs Vidar Helgesen welcomes the Council of the European Union’s conclusions. ‘This is a step in the right direction, but it is the follow-up of concrete situations that will show whether these conclusions have any real meaning in practice,’ he said. 

‘We have pointed out on several occasions that Hungary has breached agreements with Norway on the EEA and Norway Grants, for example by taking action against civil society organisations, which is also a violation of the country’s obligations to protect fundamental rights. This dialogue should therefore be used actively in relation to Hungary,’ Mr Helgesen said. 

‘It is important that the EU addresses the problems that arise when countries fail to respect fundamental rights. It is good that steps are now being taken, but I would have preferred that the EU had taken further action, and established a concrete mechanism for follow-up. The effectiveness of this dialogue arrangement will depend on how the EU follows it up,’ Mr Helgesen added. 

Similar processes for examining member countries’ compliance with fundamental rights already exist in the Council of Europe and the UN.

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