Open Estonia Foundation

PRESS RELEASE. Rule of Law in the European Union: Liberty of the Many or Duty of the Few?


Today, on 13 January, from 15:00 to 17:00 (14:00 to 16:00 CET) the XXIV Open Society Forum “Rule of Law in the European Union: Liberty of the Many or Duty of the Few?” will take place, focusing on the rule of law issues in the EU and elsewhere in the world. The keynote speech will be delivered by Věra Jourová, Vice-President of the European Commission for Values and Transparency. The Forum is organized in cooperation between the Open Estonia Foundation and the European Commission Representation in Estonia, with the support of the Estonian Ministry of Justice.

The first annual report on the rule of law in the European Union was published at the end of September 2020. It assesses the shortcomings of democracy in some Member States and proposes linking the allocation of EU funds to the application of the rule of law in a given country.

“Democracy, rule of law and fundamental rights are the three pillars forming the bedrock of the European Union. This trio constitutes our core values. All three pillars need to operate in perfect harmony. They cannot exist without one another, even less used against one another. They are the basis for everything else in the EU. That is why we need to protect them,” said the Vice President Jourová.

Vice-President Jourová's keynote and Q & A session will be followed by a panel discussion. The panel includes Toomas Hendrik Ilves, the former President of Estonia 2006–2016, Kristi Raik, Director of the Estonian Foreign Policy Institute at the International Centre for Defence and Security (ICDS), Open Estonia Foundation board member and Katrin Nyman-Metcalf, adjunct professor at TalTech Department of Law and Chair of Supervisory Council of Estonian Human Rights. The moderator of the Forum is journalist Johannes Tralla (Estonian Public Broadcasting).

The following issues will be discussed:

● What the rule of law and its conditionality mean in today’s European Union?

● How could the mechanisms for the protection of democracy, fundamental rights and the rule of law in the European Union be strengthened, including the procedures set out in the Article 7 of the TEU in the event of a breach of the rule of law? We will also look at the EU’s strategy for the implementation of the Charter of Fundamental Rights.

● What does the rule of law mean to different stakeholders and citizens?

● How can civil society protect the rule of law - challenges and opportunities?

In recent years, the Forum has discussed populism, social polarization, Russia’s influence and lessons learned from history. “The issue of the rule of law and related responsibilities is both topical and long-term in the context of the European Union's first annual report on the rule of law and the new control mechanism,” said Mall Hellam, Executive Director of the Open Estonia Foundation. She added that, when joining the European Union, Estonia had chosen European values with respect for human rights, media freedom, independence of the judiciary and equality of all before the law at its core. “Several EU Member States have faced serious problems in complying with these values. Our aim is to stimulate a broad debate on the rule of law and the related responsibilities. There are worrying developments also in Estonia and sympathy for countries that have violated the rule of law.”

The Forum takes place on the Webex platform and its working language is English, with Estonian simultaneous translation provided. The Forum can be followed online via ERR, Postimees, Delfi TV and Estonian World, as well as Facebook live on the Open Estonia Foundation FB page.

Before and during the Forum, it is possible to ask questions from the participants in the Slido web application. To do this, please go to and enter the code OpenSocietyForum2021.

#RuleofLaw #opensocietyforum #EUDemocracy #StrongerTogether #MinuEuroopa

For more information, please contact:
Mari Roonemaa
Kommunikatsioonijuht/Head of Communication
Avatud Eesti Fond/Open Estonia Foundation
Estonia pst. 5a, 10143 Tallinn, Estonia
tel: +372 56454598

The foundation works to help develop open society in Estonia and other countries