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Videoconference of European Affairs Ministers: First country-specific discussion on the rule of law among EU member states

Met dank overgenomen van Duits voorzitterschap Europese Unie 2e helft 2020 (Duits Voorzitterschap), gepubliceerd op dinsdag 17 november 2020.

Under Germany’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union, the EU member states are now, for the first time ever, holding discussions via videoconference about the state of the rule of law in specific countries. The aim is to improve their common understanding of this issue.

The rule of law in the EU is at a critical juncture. Strengthening this area is one of the main priorities that Germany has set itself for its Presidency of the Council of the European Union. In addition to rule‑of‑law conditionality in the EU budget, Germany, together with Belgium, has created a completely new instrument, namely the rule of law dialogue. The aim here is for member states to hold constructive discussions on the state of the rule of law and to identify problems at an early stage. The focus is on prevention and the exchange of best practices.

Today’s General Affairs Council, chaired by Minister of State for Europe Michael Roth, was the very first time in the history of the EU that a country‑specific debate of this kind has taken place. The first countries to be examined were Belgium, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Denmark and Estonia, in the order of protocol. The European Commission recently published reports on the rule of law situation in the individual EU member states, which are an important basis for today’s debate. At the most recent General Affairs Council in October, a horizontal debate took place on the situation of the rule of law in the EU in general. The next country‑specific debate is scheduled to take place under the Portuguese Presidency.

Minister of State for Europe Michael Roth said:

The country-specific discussion is a completely new element in the annual Council's Rule of Law Dialogue. The intention is to create a positive and constructive atmosphere, where problematic developments can be identified before it is too late and where best practices can be exchanged. We thereby want to establish a preventive dialogue and develop a common understanding on the rule of law, which belongs to the core of the EU‘s values.

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