Budapest Forum 2023 - Keynote speech - Věra Jourová: Going beyond EU conditionality?



  • Věra Jourová, Vice President of the EU Commission (online)


Main takeaways

  • Member states may have different national identities, legal systems, and traditions. But the core meaning of the rule of law is the same across the EU. These core principles of the rule of law are part of our shared constitutional traditions, be it legality, legal certainty, effective, independent, and impartial courts, effective judiciary view, separation of powers, and equality before the law.
  • Accession to the EU was the free choice of every Member State. It has not been imposed on any of them. When joining the EU, all Member States commit to upholding these common values: democracy, rule of law, and fundamental rights are the foundations without which no other EU policy can thrive.
  • The rule-of-law report released in July 2023 assessed that overall, around 2/3 of the Commission’s previous recommendations have been followed up fully or partially by Member States.
  • The EU also needed new instruments to protect the EU budget and the financial interests of the Union against breaches of the principles of the rule of law. One such instrument is the rule-of-law conditionality process. Another instrument is the horizontal enabling condition on the effective application and implementation of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. This enabling condition is a prerequisite for the effective and efficient implementation of the shared management funds under cohesion policy.
  • The Commission has been applying this budgetary conditionality regime since the start of 2021 and remains fully committed to enforcing it in Hungary and all other Member States.
  • Another way the Commission can respond to a national law that violates the requirements of judicial independence is by initiating infringement proceedings. The Commission has done this in numerous instances, for example, in the case of Poland, regarding the disciplinary regime of judges and other laws on the reform of the judiciary.
  • All these are precise legal or budgetary processes, not political ones. All these instruments complement and strengthen each other. However, these are not magic wands solving all rule-of-law issues.
  • Supporting high turnout, inclusive participation, easy and equal exercise of electoral rights, and resilient electoral processes are vital in our joint preparation for the upcoming European elections. The Commission’s proposal on transparency and targeting of political ads will establish a common high standard of transparency for political advertising services for all media forms and the strengthened protection of personal data. It will enhance accountability and deter the misuse of advertising, including to dissemination of disinformation and other interference.
  • On the 23rd and 24th of October, the Commission will organize a higher-level event on elections to foster exchanges of best practices that support turnout and power inclusive citizen engagement and other measures ensuring the resilience of the electoral systems and the fairness and transparency of elections across the Union.
  • When it comes to the role of online platforms in spreading disinformation, the Digital Services Act obliges online platforms to assess and mitigate risks related to civic discourse and election processes. Furthermore, under the Code of Practice on this information, we will work with platforms to ensure that the commitments taken under the code to limit the impact of misinformation linked to elections are put into action and monitored effectively and in a transparent way. And also, the European Digital Media Observatory will play a key role in monitoring the EU information ecosystem ahead of the European elections, as well as in increasing citizens’ resilience through targeted media literacy and fact-checking initiatives.