Social democrats will keep the pressure up in defending the Rule of Law, ministers pledge

23/11/2021

PES Europe Ministers meeting in Brussels yesterday. Pictured clockwise from top left: Tytti Tuppurainen Finnish Minister for European Affairs and Ownership Steering, Michael Roth German Minister of State for Europe, Ana Paula Zacarias Portuguese Secretary of State for the European Union, Vincenzo Amendola Italian Undersecretary of State delegated to European Affairs, Juan González – Barba Spanish Secretary of State for the European Union, and Hans Dahlgren Swedish Minister for European Affairs

PES Europe Ministers meeting in Brussels yesterday. Pictured clockwise from top left: Tytti Tuppurainen Finnish Minister for European Affairs and Ownership Steering, Michael Roth German Minister of State for Europe, Ana Paula Zacarias Portuguese Secretary of State for the European Union, Vincenzo Amendola Italian Undersecretary of State delegated to European Affairs, Juan González – Barba Spanish Secretary of State for the European Union, and Hans Dahlgren Swedish Minister for European Affairs

The EU must defend against the deterioration of the Rule of Law in Europe, especially in Member States which persistently attack the Union’s common values. This was the message sent yesterday evening by Europe ministers from the Party of European Socialists (PES).

Progressives met in Brussels to exchange ahead of the General Affairs Council (GAC) taking place today.

Meeting Chair, Germany’s Minister of State for Europe, Michael Roth, said:

“As the latest Rule of Law report points out, no country is immune to a deterioration of the Rule of Law. Although the overall situation in most Member States is rather positive, the continued challenges to the Rule of Law in a few Member States have shown clearly that there is no room for complacency.

"From violations of the independence of the judiciary, to the backtracking of women’s, LGBTI and migrants’ rights, as social democrats it is our duty to stand up and ensure that fundamental rights are protected everywhere. It is essential that we continue to monitor developments and push for concrete action when the situation demands it. All instruments at the EU’s disposal need to be used. We cannot accept the further deterioration of the Rule of Law in any Member State, or in the EU as a whole.”

The PES has strongly criticised recent breaches of the Rule of Law in Poland, Hungary and other Member States. The protection of European values for all is a priority for socialists and democrats.

Last year, social democrats in the German Presidency of the Council of the EU launched a new Rule of Law Dialogue, a new instrument based on the Commission’s annual Report on the Rule of Law in all 27 Member States, in order to keep the topic regularly and high on the agenda. Under the last European Commission, Frans Timmermans - then First Vice-President, now Executive Vice-President of the Commission - also fought to safeguard EU values. Tomorrow, the GAC will hold country-specific discussions addressing the main developments in five Member States: Croatia, Italy, Cyprus, Latvia and Lithuania.

The meeting discussed the latest developments at the EU's external border, particularly in Poland and Lithuania, and condemned the attempts by the Belarusian regime to destabilise the EU as well as its cynical instrumentalisation of migrants. It underlined the importance of humanitarian access in order to help those in need at the border.

Progressive ministers also exchanged on enlargement and reiterated their support for the opening of the Intergovernmental Conference with Albania and North Macedonia as soon as possible. If the EU fails to meet its promises, it risks losing credibility and influence in the Western Balkans. Citizens in the region must not lose their faith in Europe and in their European future.

The meeting was attended by:

  • Michael Roth, Minister of State for Europe, Germany
  • Tytti Tuppurainen, Minister for European Affairs and Ownership Steering, Finland
  • Vincenzo Amendola, Undersecretary of State, delegated to European Affairs, Italy
  • Ana Paula Zacarias, Secretary of State for the European Union, Portugal
  • Juan González – Barba, Secretary of State for the European Union, Spain
  • Hans Dahlgren, Minister for European Affairs, Sweden