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The 2013 FRA Symposium took place on 7 June in Vienna, and aimed at providing a platform to discuss and exchange ideas on the promotion of the rule of law in the EU. This report provides a summary of the discussions and working groups and presents the conclusions and possible next steps identified by each working group.
Conclusions from the symposium
- From the Symposium discussions it emerged that there is a window of opportunity at present to make headway on improving the rule of law in the EU.
- It was also viewed that, despite all the difficulties of capturing the meaning of the rule of law, a comprehensive definition or at least its core constituting elements need to be elaborated and agreed upon in the EU. To wait for a fully-fledged agreed definition before developing an assessment, is not feasible.
- It became also clear that in order to objectively and effectively measure the rule of law in the EU, understandable, commonly agreed upon, measurable, and actionable indicators have to be identified. The means of assessing these indicators should also be agreed upon.
- It was mentioned that any potential rule of law assessment should not only look at available laws and institutions (structures) or policies (procedures) but also, and especially, the situation on the ground (outcome).
- Participants stated that reliable, independent and comparable data is needed. It was also stressed that a rich variety of data sources already exists at national, European and international levels: This data has to be interlinked and analysed in order to provide information from the situation in the Member States. Areas should be identified where data and analysis is still lacking.
- In addition, a robust methodology for collecting and analysing data is needed.
- It was also noted that the rule of law should not only be measured in EU Member States but also in the EU itself – and its institutions.