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Article 2 of the Treaty on the European Union (TEU) defines the EU as founded on the values of “respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities.” The European society is referred to as one where “pluralism, non-discrimination, tolerance, justice, solidarity and equality between women and men prevail.”

The 2015 “Promoting and safeguarding the EUs values” Summary of EU Legislation stresses the importance of the rule of law as a precondition for all fundamental values under Article 2 TEU, and for respecting the rights and obligations deriving from the EU Treaties and from international law.[1] The concept of rule of law is defined the Commission as “the fact that public authority is under the control of an independent and impartial judiciary within existing law and in line with the values of democracy and fundamental rights.”[2]

In March 2014, the European Commission adopted a new Rule of Law Framework to address systemic threats to the EU values. The Summary of EU Legislation recites that if no solution is found within the Framework, which allows the Commission to enter a dialogue with the EU Member State concerned in order to prevent the escalation of systemic threats to the rule of law, “Article 7 TEU will always remain the last resort to resolve a crisis and ensure compliance with EU values.” [3]

In the current developments regarding Poland, the crisis thus seems to have reached its peak as the last resort has already been exhausted. The aim of Article 7 is to protect the values embedded in Article 2, and to ensure that all EU Member States respect common values, especially including the rule of law. Article 7 is divided into three parts and two mechanisms.

 

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[1] https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=LEGISSUM%3Al33500

[2] https://www.euractiv.com/section/justice-home-affairs/news/we-lack-alternatives-to-article-7-german-analyst/

[3] https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=LEGISSUM%3Al33500

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