Newly-elected European Commission president backs new rule of law mechanism

Ursula von der Leyen
Ursula von der Leyen
Photo: European Union

The newly-elected European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, has backed the introduction of a new EU-wide mechanism to guarantee the rule of law.

Ms von der Leyen, who just stood down as German defence minister, was elected to the top post by MEPs with a slim majority of just nine votes yesterday.

She was controversially put forward by the European People’s Party (EPP), the centre-right bloc which includes Fine Gael, despite not being the EPP’s Spitzenkandidat (lead candidate) in the European elections.

In her opening speech to the European Parliament yesterday, Ms von der Leyen said there “can be no compromise when it comes to respecting the rule of law”.

She added: “I will ensure that we use our full and comprehensive toolbox at European level. In addition, I fully support an EU-wide rule of law mechanism. To be clear: the new instrument is not an alternative to the existing instruments, but an additional one.

“The Commission will always be an independent guardian of the Treaties. Lady Justice is blind – she will defend the rule of law wherever it is attacked.”

A new rule of law mechanism was among the proposals advanced by the EPP’s Spitzenkandidat, Manfred Weber, in the run-up to the European elections.

However, human rights experts told Irish Legal News in May that the existing mechanisms were being underutilised.

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