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Institutional and Legal Affairs, Policy Cycle, PUBLICATIONS

An EU mechanism on democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights: European Added Value Assessment

Updated on 27 October 2016

Written by Wouter van Ballegooij and Tatjana Evas,

A gavel, block and law book on a judges bench

© RTimages /

This European Added Value Assessment (EAVA) accompanies a resolution based on the legislative initiative report prepared by Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) (rapporteur: Sophie in’t Veld (ALDE, Netherlands) presenting recommendations to the Commission on an EU mechanism on democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights.

The main conclusion of the EAVA is that there is a gap between the proclamation of the rights and values listed in article 2 TEU and actual compliance by EU institutions and Member States, resulting in significant economic, social and political costs. The root causes for this lack of compliance are to be found in certain weaknesses in the existing EU legal and policy framework on democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights. These weaknesses could be overcome by the conclusion of an EU Pact for Democracy, the Rule of Law and Fundamental Rights (DRF) in the form of an interinstitutional agreement (IIA). This could be done at relatively low cost, particularly if the right synergies are found with international organisations, whilst at the same time having significant benefits, notably fostering mutual trust and recognition, attracting more investment, and providing higher welfare standards.

This EAVA builds on two in-depth research papers by expert consortia (Milieu and CEPS) specialised in the rule of law and fundamental rights and impact assessment analysis. It is structured as follows:

  • an identification of the shortcomings and gaps in the existing EU legal and policy framework on democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights;
  • an identification and assessment of legislative and non-legislative policy options to address these shortcomings and gaps; and
  • a cost-benefit analysis of the policy options identified.

Part two of this EAVA analyses the EU Pact on democracy, rule of law and fundamental rights, called for by the European Parliament. The proposed Pact entails the establishment of a comprehensive Union mechanism for democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights, integrating, aligning and complementing existing mechanisms. The mechanism has two core elements:

  • an annual European report on the state of democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights in the Member States;  and
  • an EU policy cycle for democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights, involving EU institutions and national parliaments, including a DRF policy cycle within the institutions of the Union.

Part three of this EAVA then considers the social, economic and political costs and benefits of this policy recommendation compared to the current situation.


Read this in-depth analysis on ‘An EU mechanism on democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights‘.

In addition to the general paper bringing together the research findings as a whole, the exercise comprises two annexes, which are published as separate documents:

About EAVA

The European Parliament's European Added Value Unit provides European Added Value Assessments and Cost of Non-Europe Reports which analyze policy areas where common action at EU level is absent but could bring greater efficiency and a public good for European citizens.

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