European Parliament Resolution of 13 November 2020 on the impact of measures relating to the COVID-19 (2020/2790 (RSP))

Given the need for Member States to adopt restrictive measures against COVID-19, the European Parliament is concerned about how these measures impact on democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights, as they affect the exercise of fundamental rights and freedoms such as freedom of movement, freedom of assembly and association, freedom of expression and information, religious freedom, the right to respect family life, the right to asylum, the principle of equality and non-discrimination, the right to privacy and data protection, the right to education and the right to work.

Thus, in that resolution, it recalls that, even in a state of public emergency, the fundamental principles of the rule of law, democracy and respect for fundamental rights must prevail, and that all emergency measures, exceptions and limitations are subject to three general conditions, those of necessity, proportionality in the strict sense and temporality.

It also reiterates its call on Member States not to abuse emergency powers in favour of adopting legislation not related to the health emergency objectives of COVID-19 in order to overcome parliamentary scrutiny. Thus, in this resolution it makes a number of requests, in addition to recalling the importance of such measures being monitored by the legislative and judicial authorities and that they cannot ultimately be used to bring about a change in the balance or distribution of powers.

Member States are asked to involve independent experts on democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights in decision-making wherever necessary, with specific reference to ombudsmen, national human rights institutions and civil society.

Finally, the European Parliament calls on the Commission to urgently request an independent and thorough evaluation of the measures taken during the “first wave” of the COVID-19 pandemic, in order to draw conclusions that may help to ensure that any restrictive measures that may be necessary in the future due to subsequent pandemics comply with these general conditions of necessity, strict proportionality and temporality, limiting their impact on democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights as much as possible.