THE EUROPEAN COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS
- welcomes the Commission's proposal, which recognises and attaches great importance to the rule of law as a precondition for the European integration process and as a fundamental value of the EU, enshrined in the Treaties and common to the constitutional traditions of the Member States;
- supports the European Commission's proposal to create an annual monitoring system covering all Member States, highlighting the importance of objective and transparent parameters for proper monitoring. The CoR considers that these parameters should be based on the case law of the Court of Justice, the EU Justice Scoreboard models, the Venice Commission's Rule of Law Checklist and, more generally, on the experience gained by the bodies of the Council of Europe;
- urges the Commission to step up the involvement of the CoR, LRAs and civil society in promoting a culture of respect for the rule of law. LRAs can contribute to the annual event for promoting the rule of law, proposed by the Commission, by hosting a series of meetings on the rule of law, at regional and national level, in advance of and in preparation for the annual event; suggests that the Commission could nominate a "rule of law city" every year, and that the annual event would be held there;
- stresses the fact that funding conditionality should be seen as a solution only in cases of serious and systemic breaches and calls again on the Commission for measures to ensure that LRAs are not unfairly hit by the sanctions;
- considers that the funds currently allocated for civil society and independent media in the multiannual financial framework should be significantly increased, with part of this funding allocated to local independent media;
- welcomes the Commission's intention to restart the process of the EU's accession to the European Convention on Human Rights.