This document is an excerpt from the EUR-Lex website
The rule of law is enshrined in Article 2 of the Treaty on European Union as one of the common values for all EU Member States. Under the rule of law, all public powers always act within the constraints set out by law, in accordance with the values of democracy and fundamental rights, and under the control of independent and impartial courts. Respect for the rule of law is essential for the very functioning of the EU: for the effective application of EU law, for the proper functioning of the internal market, for maintaining an investment-friendly environment and for mutual trust.
The EU has developed a number of different instruments to promote and uphold the rule of law. The EU’s rule-of-law policy approach rests on three pillars:
Along with having a functional democracy and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities, the rule of law is also one of the political criteria that countries wishing to join the EU have to meet.