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Sophie Cameron

Features and Opinion Editor, Solicitors Journal

Committee on Civil Liberties publishes draft assessment of EU Rule of Law Report

Committee on Civil Liberties publishes draft assessment of EU Rule of Law Report


Draft resolution highlights concerns on press freedom

The European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties published a draft assessment of the European Commission’s latest Rule of Law Report, which highlights concerns and sets out recommendations for improvements.

The annual Rule of Law Report, which was published on 13 July 2022, examines rule of law developments across member states relating to: the justice system, the anti-corruption framework, media pluralism, and institutional issues related to checks and balances. For the first time, the European Commission’s assessment also covers certain emerging topics that are relevant for the rule of law, including public service media and an overview of the implementation of judgments issued by the European Court of Human Rights.

The Committee’s draft resolution highlights several concerns relating to press freedom, media pluralism, and the safety of journalists in several EU member states. In particular, MEPs raise the following issues: journalists are facing increased risks when corruption cases exposed by the media go unprosecuted; there is a need for the creation of country-specific recommendations on the unlawful use of spyware, such as Pegasus and Predator; and they condemn the politicisation of national councils of the judiciary in some countries.

The Committee also reiterates the view from the Parliament’s previous response in 2021 that the scope of the Commission’s assessment of the rule of law should be expanded to include the entirety of the EU’s values. In this regard, other important areas of concern could also be included in the Commission’s annual assessment, which would address ongoing issues such as human rights violations against migrants at the EU’s borders, and the backsliding of EU values in some member states. The Committee is keen for the conclusions made in the annual rule of law report relating to member states to be linked to Article 7 of the Treaty on the European Union, in other words the conditionality mechanism and infringement procedures, to better protect the EU’s values and budget.

The Committee’s draft resolution commends the Commission’s focus in the latest report on public service media and transparency of media ownership, as well as concerns relating to political party financing and senior appointments in the justice system and the legal system.

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