The VoiCEE podcast: rule of law versus rule by law

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In this episode, Reporting Democracy editor and host Nicholas Watson discusses issues surrounding the deterioration of the rule of law in the region, the condition of which the European Union is becoming increasingly worried about, especially in Poland and Hungary.

The rule of law is mentioned twice in the preamble to the Treaty on European Union. Article 2 stipulates that: “The Union is founded on the values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights…”

In this, the EU seeks to distinguish the rule of law – where the law applies equally and everyone is subject to it – from its antithesis, the rule by law – where those in power can arbitrarily create and apply the law as they choose, with no accountability.

The EU Commission already had several arrows in its quiver to deal with rule-of-law infractions among member states, namely infringement procedures and – if there was no resolution – the triggering of Article 7 of the Treaty on the European Union. But in the past couple of years, Brussels has been adding new instruments as concerns grow that the deterioration in the rule of law will spread to other member states.

How effective these new measures will be and what the future holds for those in the EU’s crosshairs is discussed by guests: Piotr Buras, head of the Warsaw office of the European Council on Foreign Relations; and Stanisław Burdziej, co-founder of Court Watch, a not-for-profit organisation supporting positive changes in the Polish justice system through citizen court monitoring.

In this podcast series we are looking at the region from different angles and perspectives, attempting to capture its diversity and understand emerging trends. Above all, we want to give a voice to a region that is often talked to rather than listened to.

The VoiCEE is brought to you by a network of independent English-language media in Central and Eastern Europe: Notes from Poland, Kafkadesk, Insight Hungary, Internews Ukraine, New Eastern Europe, Reporting Democracy, Transitions, Ukraine World, VSquare. You can find more content from our network here and follow us on Twitter.

Podcast Producer: Ewa Dunal, Sounds and Stories

Main image credit: BIRN

Nicholas Watson is editor of Reporting Democracy. An award-winning journalist, he has worked for almost 30 years in Asia, the US and Europe, writing for publications such as the Financial Times, Politico Europe, TheStreet.com, Axios, International Herald Tribune TV and Knight-Ridder News. He was also co-founder and managing editor of Business New Europe.

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