Joint reaction from civil society on the report and its reflections on civic space issues.

ECNL together with Civil Society Europe and Philanthropy Advocacy have issued a joint reaction to the 2020 Annual Rule of Law Report. The Report identifies deficiencies which are particularly concerning in a few EU countries in addition to Hungary and Poland. It also outlines worrying trends across the EU in relation to the exercise of civic freedoms and the possibility for CSOs to hold government accountable.

Here are some of the main points we raise:

  • We appreciate that the report includes the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Rule of Law and that the report highlights that a number of countries have not ensured civil society scrutiny in the development of emergency measures and that in general civic participation has been unduly limited.
  • However, we strongly regret that the report does not include concrete recommendations to Member States to address identified deficiencies which makes follow up of the report findings more difficult.
  • We also consider that the report would benefit from clear benchmarks and indicators for enabling civic spaceWithout those, it is difficult to contextualize both the identified deficiencies and good practices in country files. We stand ready to provide a more detailed analysis of the examples together with further suggestions to the Commission
  • The report is lacking analysis of the gaps in EU policy and legislation that could be addressed through concrete actions. In this context, we are looking forward to the proposal for a European Democracy Action Plan, a proposal to address Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (including civil society and human rights defenders) and strong measures to link the EU budget to rule of law conditionality.