At the end of paragraph 1, add the following sentence:
“Following a lack of action by the competent European Union institutions, the European Parliament, in a resolution of 14 November 2018 reiterated its call for establishing such a mechanism without delay”.
In paragraph 4, third sentence, replace
“that this set of shared core values and principles is not interpreted independently either by the European Union or the Council of Europe”
“ensuring that this set of shared core values and principles is interpreted in a coherent way”.
In paragraph 6, first sentence, after “under the 2007 Memorandum of Understanding”, add the following:
“the co-operation between both organisations will be based on “the principles of indivisibility and universality of human rights, respect for the standards set out in this field by the fundamental texts of the United Nations and the Council of Europe, in particular the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, and the preservation of the cohesion of the human rights protection system in Europe”. Moreover,”
In paragraph 9, replace “various European Union rule of law monitoring and enforcement mechanisms have been established” by “some European Union rule of law monitoring mechanisms have been triggered and other initiatives aimed at monitoring respect for the rule of law have been taken”.
At the end of paragraph 12, add the following sentence:
“It recalls, in line with its previous recommendations, that unnecessary duplication of work in the field of human rights, the rule of law and democracy shall be avoided.”
At the end of paragraph 13.1, replace “opinions and/or conclusions of the relevant Council of Europe advisory or monitoring bodies” by “recommendations, opinions and/or conclusions of other relevant Council of Europe bodies”.
In paragraph 5, after “Council of Europe expert bodies” delete “on the basis of standards common to both organisations”.
The implementation of the European Parliament’s resolution of 25 October 2016 requires an interinstitutional agreement between the European Parliament, the European Commission and the Council of the European Union. As neither the European Commission nor the Council has responded to this proposal, in another resolution of 14 November 2018 on the “Need for a comprehensive Democracy, Rule of Law and Fundamental Rights mechanism”, the European Parliament regretted that such an agreement had not been concluded and called again for “a comprehensive, permanent and objective EU mechanism for the protection of democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights”. It also stressed that such a mechanism “is more urgently needed now than ever before” (see also paragraph 87 of Ms De Sutter’s report).
According to the Memorandum of Understanding, the Council of Europe “will remain the benchmark for human rights, the rule of law and democracy in Europe” (paragraph 10). The current wording of the sentence in question in paragraph 4 of the draft resolution gives the impression that the Council of Europe, which has been set up to protect and promote these values, should not (sic!) interpret them independently, which if nothing else would preclude the European Court of Human Rights from exercising its role under the European Convention on Human Rights. Moreover, the Memorandum of Understanding often uses the term “coherent” (see in particular its paragraph 16 referring to “cohesion of the human rights protection system in Europe” and paragraph 24 referring to “ensuring coherence between Community and European Union law and the standards of Council of Europe conventions” in the context of the rule of law and legal co-operation). Therefore, it would be better to speak about ensuring a “coherent” interpretation of the shared values and principles.
It is important to add a reference to the wording of paragraph 16 of the Memorandum of Understanding between the Council of Europe and the European Union, as this provision puts emphasis on the indivisibility and universality of human rights, the need to respect the European Convention on Human Rights and preserve the cohesion of the human rights protection system in Europe.
As indicated in paragraph 9 of the draft resolution, the measures taken by the European Union to ensure compliance with the rule of law by its member States were based on “different paradigms”, differed in their nature and their coercive effects and were taken by different EU institutions. Those measures include, on one hand, more structured mechanisms (such as the Rule of Law Framework of the European Commission or the Co-operation and Verification Mechanism Reports on Romania and Bulgaria), and political actions such as resolutions of the European Parliament or discussions in the General Affairs Council.
This amendment is aimed at underling the need to avoid unnecessary duplication of work between the European Union and the Council of Europe, as stressed, in particular, in the Assembly’s Resolution 2041 (2015), Resolution 1756 (2010) and Recommendation 2027 (2013).
When speaking about the implementation of the Council of Europe’s standards, it is necessary to mention not only its opinions and conclusions, but also its recommendations. Moreover, the term “the relevant Council of Europe advisory or monitoring bodies” could be replaced by a broader term “other relevant Council of Europe bodies” to include explicitly bodies like the Commissioner for Human Rights or the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe.
The sentence in question refers to the assessments provided by various Council of Europe expert bodies and those bodies refer mainly to Council of Europe’s standards (although they also refer to pertinent international standards), which are sometimes very detailed. Although the European Union shares the same values as the Council of Europe (see Article 2 of the Treaty on the European Union), it does not have the same tasks and expertise as the Council of Europe and therefore has relied on the latter’s conclusions in assessing the rule of law situation in some of its member States (for example, Hungary and Poland).