The rule of law, democracy and respect for fundamental rights are core principles of the EU. It is precisely during a time of crisis such as this that all EU Member States should stick to these shared values.
The first annual Rule of Law Report is one of the major initiatives of the Commission’s Work Programme for 2020. It is part of the comprehensive European rule of law mechanism announced in the Political Guidelines of President von der Leyen, and will cover all Member States with objective annual reporting by the European Commission. The Commission’s first Report, to be published later this year, will monitor significant developments, both positive and negative, relating to the rule of law in Member States. This rule of law mechanism will act as a preventive tool, deepening dialogue and joint awareness of rule of law issues.
My Department is closely following developments in Hungary. Ireland along with 18 other EU Member States issued a Joint Statement on the Rule of Law in the context of the Covid-19 crisis on 1 April last. The Statement agreed that emergency measures should be limited to what is strictly necessary, should be proportionate and temporary in nature, subject to regular scrutiny, and respect these principles and international law obligations. Ireland and the other signatories affirmed their support for the European Commission initiative to monitor the emergency measures and their application across Member States to ensure the fundamental values of the Union are upheld.
At meetings of the General Affairs Councils, which has included hearings on Hungary under the Article 7 (TEU) procedure, Ireland has actively participated in discussions highlighting the importance of respect for the rule of law and fundamental values.
Most recently, on 22 April last, EU Ministers for European Affairs held an informal video conference to discuss the EU’s and the Member States’ response to the COVID-19 outbreak. They exchanged views on the measures taken so far, at both EU and national levels, and the importance of ensuring such measures are proportionate and respect fundamental rights and the rule of law.
Measures introduced in Ireland in response to the Covid-19 crisis are temporary and time bound. The measures have been and will remain in accordance with the laws and Constitution of Ireland. Moreover, they are in keeping with the values of the EU.