Europe is at a critical juncture, with the new security context bringing forth a crucial question: How can an expanding EU maintain and strengthen rule of law at its core? With the support of the Belgium Ministry for Foreign Affairs, International IDEA delved into the interplay between the external and internal dimensions of the rule of law to assess how the EU can be ready for enlargement while standing firm on its values.

This Policy Paper offers a basis to guide ministers’ discussions at the informal General Affairs Council on 29-30 April 2024, organized by the Belgian Presidency of the Council of the EU. It details steps to bolster rule of law efforts in ongoing EU enlargement negotiations, fortify the EU’s internal rule of law activity and equip an enlarged Union to uphold fundamental values. The findings are based on extensive research and in-depth discussions with 44 representatives of civil society organizations and institutions from the EU and enlargement countries.

Read more details about this initiative.


Publication date
30 April 2024
Charles Brasseur, Vera Pachta, Chiara Grigolo
Number of pages
978-91-7671-758-5 (PDF)




Executive summary

1. Introduction and methodology

2. The rule of law in enlargement countries and the EU: A brief overview

3. Bolstering rule of law efforts in ongoing EU enlargement negotiations

4. Fortifying EU rule of law activity within the Union

5. Equipping an enlarged Union to uphold fundamental values

6. Conclusion and recommendations



About the authors

About International IDEA

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Towards an Enlarged Union: Upholding the Rule of Law

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