AEJ Belgium supports an appeal for increased, better and more transparent communication in the European Commission annual report on Rule of Law issues that are linked to democracy and media freedom issues.

Brussels. 22.09.21. A group of civil society and media organisations working together in the EU Media Advocacy Group, including AEJ, have come out today with a joint statement with some recommendations on how to improve the credibility, inclusiveness and impact of the annual Rule of Law Reports.

Although they welcome the EU Rule of Law Report as an important step towards strengthening the foundational values of the Union, they still see problematic shortcomings resulting from the Commission’s narrow interpretation of the Rule of Law, and an overly legalistic approach that fails to assess the implementation of the impact of laws in practice. This is particularly important for countries such as Poland.

In their view, the reports do not capture other barriers beyond the laws themselves that restrict civic space. They give a list of 13 recommendations that should guide the EC for the next reports. In their view, the reports fail to map the scale of systematic human rights violations such as cases of racial and other discrimination, undue limitations to freedom of expression and assembly, attacks on academic freedom, discriminatory laws and measures against women and LGBTIQ people, and violations of the rights of migrants that directly affect respect for the Rule of Law in the EU.

In addition, the reports have, according to the group, overlooked some serious media freedom issues particularly related to the capture and state control of public service media. This information is easily accessible in the Media Pluralism Monitor 2021 and the annual report by the partner organisations, including prominently AEJ, to the Council of Europe.

Finally, they suggest strengthening the impact of the reports with concrete recommendations in future, including clear linkages with other EU frameworks and policy instruments, an alert mechanism, and transparent dialogue on follow up.

The whole statement can be read here, on the European Partnership for Democracy website.