EUR-Lex Access to European Union law

Back to EUR-Lex homepage

This document is an excerpt from the EUR-Lex website

Glossary of summaries

Glossary of summaries


According to Article 2 of the Treaty on European Union, the rule of law is one of the EU's fundamental values. It is the idea that both the EU itself and all EU countries are governed by a body of law (legal codes and processes) adopted by established procedures rather than discretionary or case-by-case decisions.

Along with having a functional democracy and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities, the rule of law is one of the political criteria that countries wishing to join the EU have to meet.

Having concluded that a tool was required at EU level to deal with systemic threats to the rule of law in EU countries, the European Commission adopted a ‘rule of law framework’ in 2014. Where EU law has been breached, the procedure under Article 7 of the Treaty on European Union would come into play. At its most severe, an EU country's voting rights could be suspended in the event that its breach of EU values is ‘serious and persistent’.