Rule of law European Union

Phase two of covid-19 responses across the EU – the rule of law stress test continued

With the help of 25 legal experts, Théo Fournier and Michael Meyer-Resende prepared an overview of emergency measures in all EU member states until 10 June 2020. 

This report includes an analysis of overarching themes, a table providing an overview of the situation in every country, as well as 27 country reports by local experts, which explore the situation in each country in more depth.

Across the EU, restrictions to human rights were gradually lifted, but some restrictions were maintained in all EU member states. Serious restrictions are now typically imposed only in small geographic areas where covid-19 outbreaks are registered. Nevertheless, if a much-discussed second wave materialises, the EU should avoid the legal uncertainties and improvisations which characterised many of their responses in March (see previous Briefing Paper).

Thirteen member states invoked a “state of emergency” or similar emergency frameworks in response to the pandemic. Fourteen member states did not apply a state of emergency in the strict sense but imposed restrictions based on legislation dealing with combating infectious diseases or civil protection.

Member states should consider reinforcing sharing competencies on public health at the EU level while also streamlining their legal responses.

Some challenges for the post-emergency period are:

  • access to justice as a result of the suspension of court hearings
  • suitable legal bases for human rights restrictions
  • potential impacts of the exceptional measures on rule of law principles

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This work is supported by

Stiftung Mercator