The COVID-19 Pandemic and the Rule of Law : Turning the Crisis into Opportunity
The still ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has caused an extraordinary, unprecedented situation worldwide. Certain mechanisms and processes pertaining the regular democratic functioning of countries may be temporarily suspended or circumvented, in order to enable concentrated decision-making and effective crisis-management. Such suspension or circumvention could mean an abuse of the state of emergency, serving particular political interests, combined with reduced space for public scrutiny. In the EU, even well-established democracies seem to be susceptible towards backsliding of the rule of law. In September 2020, the European Commission published its first Rule of Law Report, as part of strengthening the EU’s rule of law toolbox. The report aimed at monitoring significant developments between January 2019-September 2020, relating to the rule of law in the EU Member States. The report is expected to enhance the Commission’s responses at the EU level. Does, however, the methodology followed for the drafting of the annual EU Rule of Law Report ensure uncompromised objectivity and independence, so that the conclusions drawn facilitate the proposal of the necessary reforms in each Member State? The present Working Paper aims to serve as a “shadow report” to the EU Rule of Law Report(s) focusing in particular on the repercussions of the Covid-19 pandemic.