School of Transnational Governance

Power Politics Has No Space in the European Arena, Says Frans Timmermans

The First Vice-President of the EU Commission delivered the opening address to the High Level Policy Dialogue 'The EU and The Rule of Law'.

“I remember well the negotiations for what would later become the Lisbon Treaty.
When we discussed Article 7 and Article 5 of the Treaty, nobody, nobody around that table thought we would ever use them – we never thought that protecting the rule of law would be on the agenda. We thought that was a problem for the outside world.”

First Vice-President of the European Commission Fran Timmermans takes part today in our High Level Policy Dialogue “The EU and the Rule of Law”.

In his opening address, he spoke passionately about the rule of law as a fundamental pillar of the Union, assessing the challenges at stake while maintaining an optimistic outlook of the future. 

“We are lucky – no Member State has a situation of rule without law in the EU.
But when we speak to the people, we must raise awareness about the key difference between the rule of law and the rule by law.”

A Dutch politician, Timmermans joined the European Commission in 2014 under Jean-Claude Juncker. In his capacity of First Vice President, he has worked on some of the most contentious issues facing the commission, including the rule of law dispute with Poland and the EU-Turkey refugee agreement.

“The EU is based on three fundamental pillars: the rule of law, democracy and human rights. These elements coexist and none should be used against the other,” said Timmermans, with a warning that “if we revert to power politics in the EU arena, we’ll make huge steps backwards at a time were we should be united to face global challenges.”

“At the EU scale – he added – we all are minorities. The rule of law is the only thing that stands between the rights of minorities and the dictatorship of the majority.”