Didier Reynders, Maroš Šefčovič and Clement Beaune gave an overview of the General Affairs Council's discussions at a press conference on 12 April Photo: General Affairs Council

Didier Reynders, Maroš Šefčovič and Clement Beaune gave an overview of the General Affairs Council's discussions at a press conference on 12 April Photo: General Affairs Council

Luxembourg needs to further digitalise its justice system, a meeting of the EU’s General Affairs Council  concluded, with foreign affairs minister Jean Asselborn outlining judicial independence and media freedom as the grand duchy’s priorities.

The EU foreign affairs ministers met in the framework of an annual dialogue aimed at assessing the rule of law in member states. Officials discussed Luxembourg’s chapter of the 2021 report on the rule of law, which had said that “concerns remain on shortcomings for access to official documents and for access to information for the press.”

Other items addressed were the independence of the justice system and rule of law during the pandemic.

“For instance, in Luxembourg I was delighted to see efforts ongoing to create a judicial council with a clear reference to the independence of the public prosecutors,” said European Commissioner for Justice Didier Reynders. “When it comes to the pandemic, in Luxembourg and elsewhere, lockdowns have shown that we have to digitalise better particularly in the field of justice. This can best be done via online tools and online file access.”

The so-called revolving door, whereby politicians after the end of their term take up a role in industries affected by government regulations on which they have insight, was up for discussion as well. The 2021 report highlighted that in spite of Luxembourg’s code of conduct for members of parliament, which regulates lobbying activities, a number of shortcoming remain, such as a lack of rules for the government. 

Since the report, Luxembourg has introduced a lobby register also for members of government and senior advisers in the public service. It has also on jobs taken up by ministers after they leave office and given more power to an ethics council that oversees the implementation of the code of ethics.

During the General Affairs Council meeting Asselborn presented Luxembourg's main developments to strengthen the principles of the rule of law in the country, particularly in the legal, institutional and media sectors.

“Especially in these times of crisis on our continent, we must take our common commitments seriously. Neglecting the fundamental principles of our democratic and pluralistic societies poses systemic risks for our Union,” stated the foreign affairs minister.

The ministers also exchanged views with vice-president for interinstitutional relations and forward studies of the European Commission, Maroš Šefčovič, in view of preparing the commission's 2022 Report.