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Poisoned heritage for the new Commission: The rule of law question

György Fóris

Date: 10/12/2019
The rule of law issue is not going anywhere anytime soon. The Polish and Hungarian governments will likely remain in power for years. Czech, Croat and some Romanian leaders seem impressed and ready to follow the paths Kaczyński and Orbán have paved. And Italy might not have seen the last of Matteo Salvini.
Member states that increasingly question, ignore, or even attack previously agreed-upon policies, political priorities or common principles are becoming a regular occurrence within the Union, one that the new Commission will have to deal with.
In this Discussion Paper, György Fóris finds that in an increasingly politicised Union, the design of the current rule of law mechanism is lacking. He argues it cannot function effectively on legal grounds alone as long as the existing Treaty foundations remain ambiguous and the final decision is taken at the political level, where it is the Council and not the Commission that is the decisive player. 
So the von der Leyen Commission will face a difficult choice: either try to live with all of the formal members of the Union, listening to and mediating between them, while continuing to defend the rules and values that were entrusted to it as the Guardian of the Treaty and thus preserve the EU’s unity. Or, take sides and lead an open political fight against those who seem to weaken the previously agreed interpretation of fundamental European rules and principles.
Fóris, however, offers a third option: While not giving up on unity, likeminded and willing EU countries could intensify their level of cooperation, while formally retaining all parties within the framework of a larger (and looser) Community.

Read the full paper here.
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