In July 2023, the European Commission will publish its annual rule of law report. The significant challenges to the rule of law within the Union in the past year are both old and new. While issues such as the non-implementation of court decisions, the shrinking of civic space in the EU and the restriction of freedom of expression across the EU have featured in previous joint civil society statements, the new coverage in country chapters and the rapidly changing geopolitical landscape have generated new concerns.
Compliance with and respect for the rule of law in the EU are crucial for the Union’s credibility both internally and internationally. While we welcome the new approach of the 2022 report, which includes 27 country chapters as well as new topics, such as the role of public service media and the implementation of European Court of Human Rights rulings, we would like to point out the following concerns that need to be urgently addressed in the preparation of the 2023 rule of law report.
Our main recommendations to the Commission are:
- Adopt a more comprehensive approach to the rule of law, democracy and human rights;
- Improve the visibility and awareness of the rule of law report;
- Increase the specificity and qualitative assessment of the recommendations;
- Act systematically against the non-implementation of court decisions;
- Protect freedom of expression and media freedom as a backbone of democracy and the rule of law;
- Enhance the inclusion of civil society in rule of law reporting;
- Address continuing concerns regarding civic space;
- Include the impacts of the war in Ukraine on the rule of law in the EU.