The rule of law in the EU: Belgium passes its first peer review

This Tuesday November 17, the General Affairs Council of the European Union (EU) will bring together by videoconference the Ministers in charge of European Affairs. Due to the unavailability of Foreign Affairs Minister Sophie Wilmès, Belgium will be represented by Minister David Clarinval.

One of the main topics of this Council will be the annual dialogue on the rule of law, which will give concrete expression to an idea launched in 2016 by Belgium and its then Minister of Foreign Affairs, Didier Reynders. This debate will be held on the basis of the European Commission's report and conclusions on each Member State. Belgium is among the first group of Member States to be subject to this peer review in the field of rule of law. Belgium welcomes this exercise, a first at the European level, and looks forward to a constructive discussion with a view to promoting best practices at the European level and to strengthening the rule of law. Several points of the Commission's report will be raised on this occasion, including Belgium's efforts in the area of justice financing; digitalisation in the justice sector; the fight against corruption; and the protection of whistleblowers.

The report on Belgium is available at: https://ec.europa.eu/info/publications/2020-rule-law-report-communication-and-country-chapters_en.

Another important item on the agenda will be the European budget (Multiannual Financial Framework 2021-2027) and the recovery plan for Europe post-COVID-19, two dossiers on which the Presidency (held by Germany during this semester) will present an overview of progress in the framework of the trialogue with the Parliament and the European Commission.

The meeting will also serve to prepare the European Council on December 10 and 11, which will have on its agenda the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic; climate change; the security aspects related to the fight against terrorism and violent extremism; the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean and relations with Turkey as well as the EU relations with the Southern Neighborhood.

Ministers will also discuss the EU enlargement process and the state of play of the accession negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania. Finally, the Ministers will have an exchange on the fight against anti-Semitism.