The aim of current discussions and procedures on the rule of law issues in the European Union is not to punish someone but to safeguard and prevent possible problems in the future, explained Henriikka Leppo, Counsellor (EU affairs) at the Prime Minister’s Office in Finland at a seminar organised by the Estonian Foreign Policy Institute at ICDS together with the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung on 25 September 2019.
Leppo noted that rule of law has both symbolic and practical meaning in the EU: “It’s our common value base.” Leppo argued that rule of law is not just a legal but also a political question.
Marika Linntam, Director General of the Europe Department at the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs acknowledged that two hot topics in the EU – migration and rule of law – are often referred to together but should be kept separated.
Dorka Takácsy, Analyst at the Political Capital Institute in Hungary, highlighted the shortcomings in Hungary. She called for support to independent media and civil society organisations in order to safeguard the rule of law.
The event was moderated by Kristi Raik, Director of the Estonian Foreign Policy Institute.
The Estonian Foreign Policy Institute together with the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung are exploring with experts from Estonia and abroad at a series of seminars titled “Engaging with Europe of Tomorrow” the rising topics in the EU during this autumn.
The first seminar was about safeguarding the rule of law.
At the second seminar in October the focus will be on EU trade policy. The EU has traditionally been a bastion of free trade. In recent years, defending global rules-based trade has become increasingly challenging due to geopolitical tensions and protectionist tendencies among several major powers. Within the EU, Brexit weakens the weight of those member states that have been most vocal defenders of free trade. What are the main developments that undermine the global system of free trade? How does the EU tackle these challenges?
The topic of the third and final seminar in November is crucial, but also dividing – climate policy.