Europeanisation meets democracy from below: The Western Balkans on the search for new European and democratic Momentum (WB2EU)

The Conditionality Regulation: A true European means to face a rule of law crisis in wider Europe and foster media freedom, Eleonora Poli & Margherita Salvia, ÖGfE Policy Brief, 20’2021

The respect of the rule of law is central to the functioning of democracies within the European institutional settings and has become even more relevant in the aftermath of COVID-19, to counter, for instance, an unprecedented diffusion of disinformation registered during the pandemic. While disinformation does not affect rule of law per se, the lack of guarantees for media freedom and independence is a clear symptom of rule of law breaching, as it perpetuates an uncontrolled circulation of disinformation with negative effects on democratic political systems. When it comes to EU member states but also Western Balkan countries, it is important for the EU to set the bar high and make governments acting in compliance with its fundamental values. The Rule of Law Conditionality Regulation introduced in December 2020 by the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union is a first step towards a more credible Union, and will certainly allow the EU to tackle different violations of citizens’ rights such as the limitation of media freedom in many European countries.

Policy Recommendations

  1. To avoid an institutional crisis, and restore its internal and external credibility the EU needs to foster member states’ and candidate countries’ compliance with its rule of law standards.
  2. The Rule of Law Conditionality Regulation needs to be applied in order to push member states to act in the respect of the rule of law.
  3. The respect of the rule of law has a direct impact on many aspects of functioning democracies, such as media freedom, and will allow the EU to control the spread of fake news.
The Policy Brief is published in the framework of the WB2EU project. The project aims at the establishment of a network of renowned think-tanks, do-tanks, universities, higher education institutes and policy centres from the Western Balkans, neighbouring countries and EU member states that will be most decisive for the enlargement process and Europeanisation of the region in the upcoming years. The WB2EU project is co-funded by the European Commission under its Erasmus+ Jean Monnet programme.

Photo: Pixabay

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