Liberties Rule Of Law Report 2022: EU Governments Vandalising or Neglecting Their Democracies

Liberties’ third annual review of the rule of law, democracy and fundamental rights in the EU covers 17 countries. 

Deepening authoritarianism

First, deepening authoritarianism. As reported last year, three countries have governments that are pursuing a calculated strategy to build an authoritarian state. During 2021, the governments of Hungary and Poland forged ahead with further steps to dismantle their democracies while Slovenia continued to follow them down the same path. Legal and political pressure from the EU has thus far had little impact on these governments

Neglected democracy

A second trend among EU countries is democratic neglect. Our report from last year revealed a string of problems with justice systems, the state of the media, the environment for activism, corruption and systemic human rights problems that affected EU countries across the board. For the most part, governments have allowed these problems to fester or even worsen

Improvements are the exception

A third trend is that where improvements have been made, these tend to happen only in a minority of countries and are sometimes unambitious. For example, progress on improving the justice systém was recorded in just four countries (the Czech Republic, Italy, the Netherlands, and Slovakia).

Similarly, little real progress was found on tackling corruption with reforms discussed but no concrete changes in the Czech Republic, Ireland, Italy and France.

Recommendations to the EU

The Commission is expected to include recommendations for each country on how to resolve the problems it identifies. Liberties welcomes this development.

Furthermore, the Commission should trigger litigation and the rule of law conditionality mechanism promptly. The Commission should also include analysis of systemic fundamental rights violations in its report. Finally, the Commission should improve legal protection and financial support for civil society organisations to help them weather attacks, so they can continue to play their role of making democracy work properly.

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