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The Rule of Law

The rule of law, along with respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality and respect for human rights, is a fundamental principle of the European Union, enshrined in Article 2 of the Treaty on European Union. It guarantees accountable governments and equal citizens’ rights and applies equally to all Member States. 

The rule of law is a crucial component of democracies, protecting independent courts that ensure the protection of citizens’ fundamental rights and civil liberties, a free and pluralistic media landscape and an active civil society.

In recent years, the EU has been confronted with systematic threats to the rule of law in various member states. As compliance with and respect for the rule of law are crucial for the EU’s credibility both internally and internationally, EPD works closely with civil society organisations and the EU institutions to identify threats and make recommendations to strengthen the rule of law in Europe.

Do you want to learn more about our work on the Rule of Law? Contact our Policy Coordinator at [email protected]


European Commission

European Parliament

Council of the EU

European Economic and Social Committee

Court of Auditors


  • Article 19 (2022), Civil society recommendations for an ambitious rule of law report in 2022, here.
  • Civil Liberties Union for Europe (2022), Liberties Rule of Law Report 2022, here.
  • Civil Liberties Union for Europe (2023), Liberties Rule of Law Report 2023, here.
  • Closa, C. & Kochenov, D. (2015), Reinforcement of the Rule of Law Oversight in the European Union: Key Options, here.
  • Elsuwege, P. and Gremmelprez, F. (2020), Protecting the Rule of Law in the EU Legal Order: A Constitutional Role for the Court of Justice, here.
  • European Civic Forum (2023), The Rule of Law report needs a broader approach and concrete recommendations in order to fully serve its purpose, here
  • European Civic Forum & Civic Space Watch (2021), Civic space in the European rule of law framework, here.
  • Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) (2023), How to Improve the EU’s Rule of Law Toolbox, here.
  • Konstadinides, T. (2017), The Rule of Law in the European Union: The Internal Dimension, here.
  • Kowald, K. (2020), Protection of the Union’s budget in case of ‘rule of law’ deficiencies, here.
  • Mańko, R. (EPRS) (2019), Protecting the rule of law in the EU: Existing mechanisms and possible improvements, here.
  • Mańko, R. (EPRS) (2022), The European Commission’s annual rule of law reports: A new monitoring tool, here.
  • Meijers Committee (2020), EU-relevant “rule of law” protection instruments, procedures, policies and tools: an overview of available instruments, here.
  • Pech, L. (2022), The Rule of Law as a Well-Established and Well-Defined Principle of EU Law, here.
  • Scheppele, K. L., Kochenov, D. & Grabowska-Moroz, B. (2020), EU Values Are Law, after All: Enforcing EU Values through Systemic Infringement Actions by the European Commission and the Member States of the European Union, here.
  • Venice Commission (2016), The Rule of Law checklist, here.

Cover photo by the Court of Justice of the European Union.