Read-out of the weekly meeting of the von der Leyen Commission by Věra Jourová, Vice-President of the European Commission, and Didier Reynders, European Commissioner, on the Rule of Law report 2023
07 Jul 2023

The European Commission shines a light on NHRIs in its newest 2023 Rule of Law Report with country-specific recommendations 

ENNHRI welcomes the newly published European Commission 2023 Rule of Law Report which reaffirms the important role of National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) as vital part of national checks and balances. In its recommendations, the European Commission urges Member States to step up efforts to establish an NHRI in line with the UN Paris Principles and to strengthen the enabling environment for existing NHRIs.  

This year all ENNHRI members from EU Member States contributed to the EU rule of law monitoring cycle through ENNHRI’s joint reporting, providing comparative information on the state of the rule of law in the EU and their key recommendations. They focused on certain rule of law topics, including the independence and effectiveness of NHRIs, civil society space and human rights defenders, the impact of Artificial Intelligence on the rule of law and human rights, the implementation of European Courts’ judgments, alongside the assessment of state authorities’ follow-up to the European Commission’s first-ever rule of law recommendations.  

Building on the information submitted by ENNHRI and NHRIs, the European Commission reports on the progress made in some Member States in relation to the strengthening the enabling environment for NHRIs (namely in Cyprus, Portugal, and Slovenia). In Poland, the European Commission identifies some progress made to improve the framework in which the NHRI operates in relation to funding. At the same time, the European Commission underlines that in some Member States NHRIs continue to face challenges, despite the Commission’s recommendations issued last year to improve their operating space. In this regard, the European Commission calls on:  

  • Croatia to further improve the follow-up to recommendations and ensure a more systematic response to information requests of the Ombudsperson; 
  • Lithuania to provide adequate human and financial resources for the functioning of the Office of the Parliamentary Ombudspersons; 
  • Poland to continue to improve the framework in which the Ombudsperson operates. 

While ENNHRI welcomes the recognition of these challenges faced by NHRIs in the EU, ENNHRI invites the European Commission to more consistently address challenges faced by NHRIs across EU countries, as documented in ENNHRI’s submission to the 2023 rule of law report.  

Furthermore, the European Commission’s report also reflects on the progress made since last year in relation to the establishment of the NHRIs in line with the UN Paris Principles in 4 EU Member States where there is no NHRI accredited yet. While the European Commission welcomes some limited progress made on this issue in Czech Republic and Italy, it deplores that no progress at all has been made in Malta and Romania.  

Therefore, the European Commission in its report recommends for state authorities to step up efforts to establish a National Human Rights Institution in the Czech Republic, Italy, Malta and Romania.  

ENNHRI and EU NHRIs stand ready to cooperate with the European Commission and Member States on further advancing the rule of law compliance across the European Union and to support effective implementation of the Commission’s recommendations to Member States. ENNHRI invites the European Commission to continue to cooperate closely with NHRIs and ENNHRI to facilitate timely and effective follow-up to its recommendations. This includes also involving NHRIs further in country-level rule of law dialogues with state authorities such as national parliaments.  

Download ENNHRI’s contribution to the European Commission’s monitoring cycle on the state of the rule of law in the EU. Later this year, ENNHRI will publish its regional report with insights from its members across Europe.  

Read more on ENNHRI’s work on democracy and rule of law

Image SourceLukasz Kobus / EC – Audiovisual Service