This overview of all existing and proposed EU mechanisms to uphold Article 2 TEU values in Member States shows a clear tendency of EU institutions to invest in monitoring and preventive tools rather than in enforcement mechanisms, at least when it comes to addressing systemic deficiencies as regards those values. Most of the existing and proposed mechanisms can be considered monitoring or preventive tools, aimed at either evaluating the situation in Member States or at addressing threats before they become a systemic reality. Although those mechanisms seem necessary, as they may provide the information needed to ground further action and may bolster voluntary compliance, their effectiveness depends on many different factors, including the existence of a credible threat of triggering enforcement tools in cases of non-compliance. In this respect, it is to be noted that apart from the possibility of resorting to infringement procedures and preliminary references, the only tool for enforcing EU values currently provided for in EU law for cases of systemic shortcomings in relation to EU values is the sanctions arm in Article 7(2)-(3) TEU. Taking into account the harsh substantive and procedural requirements attached to the procedure, the question is whether it can be used as a credible enforcement tool to bolster voluntary compliance under all the other mechanisms. On this note, the rule of law budgetary conditionality may be a solution, especially if it is ultimately drafted as a less burdensome enforcement tool that could incentivise compliance with one Article 2 TEU value at least, namely, the rule of law.
EU mechanisms to monitor, prevent and enforce EU values
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