In recent years, the European Commission has been confronted with crisis events in some EU countries, which revealed systemic threats to the rule of law. The Commission reacted by adopting the rule of law framework to address such threats in EU countries.
The objective of the rule of law framework is to prevent emerging threats to the rule of law to escalate to the point where the Commission has to trigger the mechanisms of Article 7 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU). This is done through dialogue with the EU country concerned.
The framework establishes a three-stage process. They are:
monitoring of the EU country’s follow-up to the Commission’s recommendation
If no solution is found within the rule of law framework, Article 7 of the TEU is the last resort to resolve a crisis and to ensure the EU country complies with EU values. Article 7 TEU provides for special mechanisms with far-reaching sanctions in case an EU country does not respect the fundamental values referred to in Article 2 TEU, including the rule of law.