To Live and to Learn: The EU Commission’s Failure to Recognise Rule of Law Deficiencies in Lithuania
Monciunskaite, B. To Live and to Learn: The EU Commission’s Failure to Recognise Rule of Law Deficiencies in Lithuania. Hague J Rule Law (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40803-021-00166-2
Posted: 25 Mar 2022
Date Written: 2022
During the last decade, it has become apparent that the European Union (EU) Commission is failing to halt rule of law decline in Poland and Hungary. However, has the Commission learnt from its experience in handling rule of law decline in these countries? This article suggests that not only has the EU Commission failed to learn the importance of swift action in the face of burgeoning rule of law crises but has actively ignored similar systemic issues altogether in Lithuania, a country that has historically been an exemplary Member State. This article will analyse the status of the rule of law and judicial independence in Lithuania in light of the EU Commission’s first two Rule of Law Reports published in September 2020 and July 2021. These reports were designed to act as a preventative measure to protect the rule of law in each Member State through documenting and raising awareness for rule of law developments in the Union. Lithuania has largely slipped under the radar of constitutional democracy scholars; however, in the past two years, Lithuania has endured a series of attacks on judicial independence and suffered an attempted siege of its national broadcaster. There has been an intense deadlock recently over the election of Constitutional Court justices, which has raised concerns over the executive’s persistent attempts to politicise Lithuania’s highest court. Worryingly the recent Rule of Law Reports, published by the EU Commission, fail to reflect the severity of these recent developments. The reports’ silence on these issues leads this article to conclude that the EU Commission is turning a blind eye to Lithuania’s precarious rule of law situation by failing to truthfully document significant negative developments around the rule of law. By doing so, the Commission not only exacerbates rule of law issues domestically but also undermines the fight against rule of law backsliding in the Union.
Keywords: Rule of Law, Lithuania, European Union, European Commission, Judicial Independence
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