Strengthening the Rule of Law in South East Europe and the EU: Instruments, challenges and lessons learned

The Eastern enlargement of the European Union (EU) highlighted the significance of strengthening of the rule of law for the advancement of the accession process. All Central and Eastern European countries were encouraged to improve the efficiency of the judiciary and tackle corruption. However, in the cases of Bulgaria and Romania the European Commission identified a number of outstanding issues in these areas and in 2007 both countries became the only EU member states subjected to post-accession monitoring through the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM). In 2011 the EU adopted a new approach which firmly placed the rule of law at the heart of the enlargement strategy with the Western Balkans. More recently the weakening of democratic institutions in some EU member states forced the Union to revisit its approach to safeguarding the rule of law inside the EU. In 2020 the Commission published the first EU rule of law reports evaluating the situation in all EU member states.Over the last two decades the EU has developed a broad range of instruments aimed at promoting and safeguarding the rule of law. Nevertheless, there are serious concerns about the deterioration of the rule of law in candidate countries and in EU member states. The aim is the webinar is to discuss the effectiveness of the EU rule of law instruments and policies in comparative perspective and reflect on the key lessons learnt.