Pacta sunt servanda: According to Article 7 of the Treaty on European Union, aimed at ensuring compliance with basic European values in all Member States, a breach of European law can only be determined by a unanimous vote of the EU’s heads of state and government. Given the lengthiness of the Article 7 procedure and the possibility of alliances among Member States, how can the EU enforce its basic values?

Submitted by: Yonis Ahmedali, Catalina Anneese, Bobby Blaauw, Anne Groenewegen, Yasumi Meijer, Sophie Roelfsema, Laurence Verbree, Laura van Zonneveld, Sebastian Ohlig (Chairperson, DE)

The European Youth Parliament,

  1. Bearing in mind that the rule of law, as laid out in Article 2 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU), is a fundamental EU value,
  2. Concerned by the lack of a shared legal framework on defining ‘rule of law’ in the European Union,
  3. Reiterating Member States’ right to adopt national legislation and the conflicts arising out of the subsidiarity principle,1The subsidiarity principle, as laid out in Article 5 TEU, states that legislation adopted at the lowest-possible level.
  4. Alarmed by developments in Member States such as Poland, where, in a ruling, the Constitutional Tribunal recently questioned the very legal foundations of the EU,
  5. Acknowledging that the EU’s mechanism for defending its fundamental values, as it is laid out in Article 7 TEU, has proven inadequate,
  6. Conscious that, in the past, alliances between Member States have blocked EU attempts in line with Article 7 TEU to hold said Member States accountable for violations of EU fundamental values,
  7. Observing the rejection of the idea of withholding EU funds in response to breaches of EU fundamental values by several EU Member States,
  8. Noting the ongoing debate on introducing a ‘Copenhagen Mechanism’;2The concept of a Copenhagen Mechanism refers to the possibility of an EU-wide supervisory and monetary mechanism, tracking the rule of law in Member States and with the power to freeze national practices.

  1. Calls upon the European Commission to establish a multi-stakeholder working group tasked with developing an EU-wide consensual definition of the term ‘rule of law’;
  2. Reminds Member States of the legal precedents establishing the primacy of European over national law;
  3. Urges the European Council to increase the public perception of the transparency of the Article 7 process;
  4. Requests the European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS) to:
    1. conduct a study examining the advantages of a reform of the Rule of Law Mechanism in the TEU,
    2. devise possible areas of reform in the TEU;
  5. Further request the European Council to, dependent on the results of the aforementioned study, amend Article 7 TEU following the legal guidelines set forth in Article 48 TEU for such processes;
  6. Encourages the European Commission to partially restrict the dispensation of EU funding in response to Member States’ violations of European values, in particular the rule of law, whilst:
    1. targeting the respective Member States’ governments, not populations,
    2. setting the scale of the sanction according to the severity of the breach;
  7. Calls upon the European Commission to guarantee accountability and transparency in supplying funding;
  8. Calls upon Directorate General for Budget (DG BUDG) to ensure no EU funds are being utilised to finance operations in conflict with European values;
  9. Calls upon the Directorate General for Justice and Consumer (DG JUST) to further expand its existing mechanisms for a review of the state of Rule of Law in Member States;
  10. Calls upon the European Commission to create an independent expert group tasked with:
    1. looking into the feasibility of implementing a neutral intra-EU evaluation of the status of European values in Member States,
    2. investigating the advantages of and steps required for a ‘Copenhagen Mechanism’ system.