Europe raises rule of law concerns among coronavirus responses

Europe raises rule of law concerns among coronavirus responses

A joint statement issued by 14 European countries has raised concern about “the risk of violations of the principles of rule of law, democracy and fundamental rights” in responses to the coronavirus pandemic.

The short statement was agreed by the governments of Ireland, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden.

The news comes after the Scottish government attempted to pass legislation to abolish juries in solemn trials for the duration of the pandemic.

The European Commission announced earlier this week that it “will closely monitor, in a spirit of cooperation, the application of emergency measures in all member states”.

The joint statement warns: “Emergency measures should be limited to what is strictly necessary, should be proportionate and temporary in nature, subject to regular scrutiny, and respect the aforementioned principles and international law obligations. They should not restrict the freedom of expression or the freedom of the press.

“We need to jointly overcome this crisis and to jointly uphold our European principles and values on this path. We therefore support the European Commission initiative to monitor the emergency measures and their application to ensure the fundamental values of the Union are upheld, and invite the General Affairs Council to take up the matter when appropriate.”

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