The dilemma of the principle of law is now a fundamental problem in the European Union for the past ten years. However, now the European Commission has decided to expand its horizons and assess the corruption and democracy scenario in most 27 member nations, one by one.
She talked to Euronews in their findings.
In introducing this, it is not only presenting any record, it is not business as normal. Because we had to make a fantastic evaluation of the problem in all of the member states. We’re taking a look at the situation from the judicial world, particularly on the independence of the judiciary, balancing the forces between different branches. And we are looking afresh in the position of the media since the media aren’t merely economic actors, also they possess an extremely crucial part in protecting freedom of speech and democracy.
Věra Jourová: The primary issues, should I create an overall appraisal, are on the planet of the judiciary: the trend to inflict more political pressure on the judicial procedure, on the judges, particularly from executive divisions’ negative, particularly from authorities. We must have complete certainty that in every country we’ve got independent judges that will choose the grounds of this legislation, not on the grounds of who’s who and that must be handled how. And that’s a really clear principle which we’ve: equality before the law, guarded against the judges. So regarding the politicization of the judiciary, in addition to the political and financial pressures on the media that we see in several states, the trend is worsening. We have very exact information collected in the past year and this season. Media play a crucial role also in safeguarding democracy or providing the real image. The expert journalists who believe a high degree of duty naturally are people who should provide goal information to the taxpayers, because we need citizens to be well informed to make their judgments and decisions, particularly in elections. Anti-corruption: well we will need to perform more in certain member countries. But in a few states, we do not see such an image. Additionally, it’s reflected from the understanding we hear from taxpayers and companies that in some nations people just don’t trust their associations to have the ability to fight against corruption satisfactorily. And I believe that this is also the variable we must concentrate on more.
Euronews: 2 nations are under Article 7 Event: Hungary and Poland. Do you believe that they continue to be great working democracies?
Věra Jourová: Well we have covered quite well the issues we all see and we voiced our concerns at the various newspapers and analyze seeing Poland and Hungary. We’ve got the Article 7 procedure triggered for both nations. I never thought this guide would be used and we’ve got it. So it is significant that this procedure is continuing. Where we see tangible instances of this violation of EU law, we now tackle it by breach procedures. Since that which we heard out of Poland and Hungary was that we ought to focus also on other people. And I believe this is a really important moment, once we view the situation from the member nations clarified based on objective criteria. We honestly attempted to be objective from the evaluation. The process we used was quite transparent and inclusive.
Euronews: Can you see openness from such nations to collaborate and to alter about these points which you write about in the document?
Věra Jourová: Wellwe saw openness to collaborate from all of the member countries. Our coworkers were analyzing the reports along with the findings from discussions with, I believe, 300 distinct bodies from all of the member countries. Therefore the openness was there. I believe by doing this job, introducing this preventative instrument, that’s the report we’re presenting now, we’re giving more emphasis or even more impetus on why it’s necessary to consciously protect and defend the rule of law in the member nations and that it needs to be a frequent interest. So I must say I was well surprised by the degree and quality of cooperation. This is the very first variant we’re introducing now. It’ll be yearly reports, so next year we’ll observe the trends. What will we do with all the new findings?
Euronews: We’ve observed some non-usual suspects too.
Věra Jourová: Wellin certain countries we see notably the negative tendency from the world of press. It is fantastic to read the accounts where we are extremely open and exact from the evaluation. Additionally, the shortage of activity, notably investigations and prosecutions of criminal offenses from the realm of finance. That is why at precisely the same time, we attempted to push forwards the proposal to join the rule of law principle and efficient investigation and prosecution of fraud. So we’re now expanding the arsenal and the number of tools we now have available. Because talking about money, we’re currently in a situation where we will distribute more income. The cash should function excellent purposes. I should also cite that the recovery cash, which ought to help all member nations to escape the catastrophe brought on by COVID. And that is the reason why we can’t maintain the machine where we’re, raising the amount of spread money and dealing with the reality that there’s this diminishing degree of confidence. We must introduce some more defenses.
We must deploy all of the steps and tools that we have in hand. Along with the money… Well, I think that it’s a really serious warning for many states which may keep on breaching the principle of law: by calculating the cash, the taxpayers in member nations, notably in member states that are web crawlers, wish to see more protects. And we shouldn’t give up on dialogue with member countries, particularly with people where we have worried. And we only must confess to ourselves that we’re naive previously: thinking that the principle of law principle is that there indefinitely; it will function with no issues; that it’s automatic, some sort of Perpetuum mobile; this basic rights will be constantly respected anywhere; the security of minorities will be set up everywhere. Well, it is quite apparent that we must raise the pressure on member countries to be conscious that these will be the sacred principles of this golf club. Since it’s again, about faith, it’s all about trust between member countries. For example, individual courts are working anywhere with identical certainty and quality. And this is around the trust of these people in their associations. And here we see that a difference. The trust of those in institutions is diminishing.
Euronews: Is not it naivety to believe that these nations will eventually simply accept this funding conditionality since they can even veto it?
And I wouldn’t like to quit at this point or perhaps say something which would put to question the significance of this suggestion.
Do you repent this wording?
What I stated, I stated. I used different words, however, I talked about precisely the same thing and severe issues. There was some misunderstanding too in what I mentioned since I recall quite well the principal message from the interview that I gave was the first and final word has to be there for its taxpayers, for the people. And I admire very much the Hungarian people as well as their free option. I understand that Prime Minister Orbán won the elections and I just stated that we will need to view in all of the member nations, such as Hungary, there are the states set up to ensure the people fair and free option.
Euronews: And do you believe this fair and free choice with an election remains there in Hungary?
Then freedom of language and well-functioning judicial and media supervision: since there may be a circumstance once the outcomes of elections in any nation may be placed into question. In the situation where these conditions are set up, we talk about fair and free elections.
Euronews: How are you going to deal later on with all the Hungarian government? As they’re also cutting ties.
Věra Jourová: I’m ready for dialogue with member countries and all spouses.
Věra Jourová: It is a tough issue, I must say. Since we do not have very powerful legal competences. We’ve got some. And we’ll start looking into how the member countries are implementing it into their national legislation and notably in training. So far, just some member countries have informed their execution. So we’ll look to that and utilize our legal proficiency. However, for the remainder, we do not have powerful enough legal competences. And we’ve, I believe several instances recommended to member countries that they protect or assist the press today in COVID time to live economically. And you will find several member countries that are currently applying their state help into the media too, to assist them to keep their tasks and so forth. So there are various ways, and that I feel that we’ll be well known in attempting to encourage independent media since they’re heavily needed.
Euronews: Together with the pandemic, European nations hurried to employ emergency legislation that restricted the civil liberties and the free movement of their citizens. Parallel to a fresh wave of fake news and disinformation bombarded the world wide web. Oftentimes, Russia, and China were supporting them.
Věra Jourová: In several ways old ordinary wasn’t good normal. We had difficulties before COVID, as we understand. COVID time demanded the launch of crisis regimes in nearly all member countries. As a crisis program should not indicate that you switch off the inherent balance and you turn off the judicial supervision or you silence the press or you silence busy citizens. So relating to this COVID time along with the crisis regimes, we’re quite clear on how we’d love to see that occurring. Additionally, incidentally, the security of privacy was at stake and we delivered recommendations for member countries about the best way best to use tracing programs without depriving that and without depriving individuals of their solitude. And I believe this is the lesson to the future. You asked about old and new ordinary. Well, this is a never-ending procedure. Like I told you, we were naive. We believed it had been an automatism. It is not. I’d love to say we ought to go beyond simply announcing it. We must go and get it done. More defense, much more security.
Do you’ve got tools to combat it or do you believe this will remain with us?
Věra Jourová: It is one component where I could explain quite nicely how the older scenario before COVID had been shrouded in COVID time. Before COVID we needed a large issue with overseas influence, together with disinformation campaigns. We had several businesses under the permanent strike of disinformation: minorities, migration; today it is the green coverages, and also a brand new issue is that the large and intensive disinformation wave against vaccination. So disinformation generally isn’t new and it needs to be handled. However, cautiously and sensibly. And I can only inform you that we’re planning some new guidelines on the internet world, however, on disinformation, we’re not introducing any type of censorship or even some type of restriction on the liberty of speech.
Euronews: How can you cope with overseas disinformation efforts, notably from China and Russia?
We’re working with online platforms since we need them to notify the general public about such instances so that folks know this can be pressure from outside. And we also need the people to know what is the intention of this pressure, what is the purpose of distinct disinformation campaigns. Likely me as a taxpayer, I’m under the influence of someone who wants to divert our society and that would like to sow hatred and distrust towards associations. I think we are behind in making it obvious exactly what the use of the disinformation is and it can be quite dangerous.
Do you believe Europe should place sanctions on Russia due to the matter?
This is a significant blow and we can not abandon it with no response. I’m certain this is also among those game-changers in our relationships.