In democracies, the people’s will is expressed and framed by law. “Democracy” and the “Rule of Law” are concepts that address two sides of democratic governance. Current political dynamics in the EU countries can lead to fundamental changes to how countries respect the rule of law. These dynamics merit discussion and analyses.
Challenges to democratic governance and institutions that uphold the rule of law in the EU and its member states include among others threats to judicial independence, the separation and balance of powers, administrative discretion, and institutional protections of democratic participation. Many of these challenges are political issues at the core. Yet, the law matters: at a minimum, governments want to be seen to act lawfully. Many believe that they have the law on their side, a belief reinforced by the fact that all EU member states have freely committed to uphold democracy and the rule of law in their constitutions, in EU law and in their international commitments.
Many legal researchers and practitioners have described and bemoaned at length recent political and legal dynamics within EU member states. However, there are few forums in the EU for a more personal, in-depth exchange on these challenges and their possible solutions. Furthermore, the debate is often legalistic and hard to follow for a wider audience.
How we want to address this challenge
Together with the Forum Transregionale Studien (FTS), we designed “re:constitution – Exchange and Analysis on Democracy and Rule of Law in Europe” as a programme to improve European exchanges on constitutional law and values that leads from common words to shared, concrete, concepts.
To turn this idea into reality, re:constitution has three main components:
- re:constitution Fellowships (FTS)
- re:constitution Seminars (FTS)
- re:constitution Analysis (DRI)
The first two modules offer a platform for exchanges between relevant actors at the intersection of law, politics and public administrations across the EU. This will be an opportunity for these actors to discuss how to organise and protect the institutions of democratic constitutionalism, how to (re-)build consensus around current institutional problems, and how to solve these problems.
Given the constantly evolving environment surrounding these issues, as part of the third module of this programme we will publish topical analysis to inform the public debate and inspire legal dialogues among scholars and practitioners.
DRI aims to join the discussion on the rule of law in EU by facilitating a fact-based, transparent debate based on topical questions relevant to recent developments. We will reach out to media and opinion-makers and provide them with factsheets, news analysis, infographics and a network of to support quality journalism and reporting on rule of law developments in the EU and its member states.
Through these media and opinion-makers, re:constitution will reach a broader audience interested in legal and political affairs.
All EU Member States include respect for the rule of law in their legal systems and committed to meet standards related to the rule of law, democracy and human rights established by the EU, the Council of Europe, the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and the United Nations. These standards will guide us in our analysis and serve as benchmarks for our debates.
re:constitution programme is a joint initiative by Democracy Reporting International and the Forum Transregionale Studien, funded by the Stiftung Mercator. The programme began on 1 February 2019 and will continue until the end of 2022.
Photocredit: Wake Forest University School of Law/Flickr