Tuesday, 24 November 2020

Questions (443)

Bernard Durkan


443. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the extent to which it is accepted that the rule of law should prevail across all EU and non-EU countries; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38717/20]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

There is no doubt that challenges to the rule of law are present in both EU and non-EU countries, and the rule of law cannot be taken for granted.

Ireland is a firm supporter of the rule of law and the values of the EU enshrined in Article 2 of the Treaty on the European Union. The rule of law is and should remain a fundamental principle that all EU Member States respect, protect and promote, both within and beyond the EU.

Globally, Ireland is committed to a process of effective multilateralism in which the broadly accepted, rules-based international order is respected and developed. Both internationally and at EU level specifically, Ireland has advocated broadly for respect for the rule of law.

We believe that it is important for the EU to have the necessary tools to monitor the rule of law across Member States and to effectively respond to challenges where they arise.

To that end, we strongly support a strong and effective Rule of Law proposal to protect the EU Budget. Once the regime of conditionality is introduced, Ireland will support its fair, proportionate and effective implementation. The introduction of a regime of conditionality would be in addition to an important range of tools available to the EU for monitoring, promoting and enforcing the rule of law.

Among these tools are the ongoing Article 7 proceedings against Hungary and Poland, under which there have been a number of hearings at the General Affairs Council. Ireland has actively participated in these hearings - and will continue to do so - highlighting the importance we attach to respect for the rule of law.

We have also welcomed the publication of the Commission’s first Annual Rule of Law Report, which presents a broad overview of the rule of law situations across Member States and the EU as a whole. It provides a valuable, impartial assessment of both the positive and negative developments relating to rule of law. We look forward to discussing the Irish Chapter of the Report with fellow Member States at a meeting of the General Affairs Council during the Portuguese Presidency in 2021.

Conversations among EU Member States regarding the rule of law can be difficult, and each Member State has its challenges in this area, but it is important for Member States to be willing to engage on these issues. We will remain open to dialogue on the rule of law and we encourage our fellow Member States to do the same.