2019 marks the 10th anniversary of the Lisbon Treaty, which not only rendered the European Union more democratic and stronger in the field of foreign policy, but also made European Union accession to the European Convention on Human Rights a legal obligation and offered new opportunities for a reinforced partnership between the Council of Europe and the European Union.
New challenges have emerged following the 2007 Memorandum of Understanding between the Council of Europe and the European Union, which confirmed the role of the Council of Europe as “the benchmark for human rights, the rule of law and democracy in Europe” and “Europe’s wide reference source of human rights”.
The Communication on the Rule of Law, published by the European Commission on 3 April 2019, opens the way for the Council of Europe to advance concrete proposals on how to enhance the European Union rule of law toolbox; these proposals should also refer to relevant work by the Parliamentary Assembly, emanating from its Monitoring Committee or its general committees.
Over the past ten years, several Assembly resolutions (as well as the 2018 Ad hoc Committee report on the role and mission of the Parliamentary Assembly) have stressed the need to avoid duplication and conflicting messages, further political dialogue with the various European Union institutions, notably the European Commission and the European Parliament, and enhance the dialogue between national parliaments and European decision-makers.
With a view to the European elections of May 2019, the Assembly must remain proactive and forward looking in ensuring that the full implementation of the Lisbon Treaty and of the Memorandum of Understanding lead to a strengthened co-operation between the two organisations, and should put forward concrete proposals to ensure synergies, coherence of standards, as well as enhanced political dialogue.