23 March 2017
Respecting the Rule of law is a prerequisite for exercising democracy at local and regional level

Respecting the Rule of law is a prerequisite for exercising democracy at local and regional level

Plenary session of the European Committee of the Regions

At the initiative of the PES Group, the CoR plenary session adopted today a resolution on the Rule of Law in the EU from a local and regional perspective.

Commenting on the resolution, the PES Group's 1st Vice-President, Markus Töns, stressed that "the recent attempts by some conservative-led national governments (including in Poland and Hungary) to pass laws which risk undermining the very foundations of democracy and of the rule of law,  are extremely worrying and cannot be accepted. As politicians representing the grassroots level, which bears much of the responsibility for implementing fundamental rights and freedoms, we call upon all Member States to fully respect these principles as they form the basis for mutual trust between citizens and all levels of government."

The support for the 'Single EU mechanism on democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights', proposed by the European Parliament in October 2016. This mechanism should be conceived in such a way that it would give the regional and local authorities the opportunity to refer matters directly to the Commission if they identify threats to the rule of law.

The CoR resolution stresses a series of key points, including:

  • The need for a proper separation of powers as an essential element of the checks and balances characterising a rule-of-law structure.
  •  The opposition to political conditionality, which would hold local and regional authorities hostage to policies pursued by national governments and risk to see EU funding for cities and regions suspended.
  • The role of active, independent and pluralistic civil society organisations and NGOs in democratic processes.

The PES Group will continue to raise awareness of this topic through its Europe-wide photo competition on ‘My Europe, my rights’, which has been launched yesterday.​