Restricting human rights in the Member States during the COVID-19 pandemic

Författare: Varfolomieieva Valeriia

During the COVID-19 pandemic, most EU Member States found themselves obliged to derogate from certain civil and political rights. Even though these derogations differed in both style and extent, they have had implications for the democratic systems in the Member States. But what are the implications of these derogations for the EU legal system? Valeriia Varfolomieieva, Research Assistant in law at SIEPS, raises this issue by analyzing the European and EU legal framework for human rights derogations. (2021:18epa)

Two years after the outbreak of the pandemic, it is possible to review the measures taken by EU Member States to limit the spread of the virus, but which also restricted civil and political rights. This suspension of individual freedoms during the pandemic led to the democratic regression in European countries.

EU Member States may have done what they could to respond to COVID-19, but their actions may affect the EU as a whole. Therefore, it is important to reflect on the processes and outcomes of them during the pandemic. For this purpose, Valeriia Varfolomieieva, Legal Research Assistant at SIEPS, has analysed five EU Member States, namely Hungary, Poland, Italy, France and Sweden.

The circumstances of 2020 and 2021 may have justified some derogation from human rights but only insofar as the legal principles of legality, necessity and proportionality were respected. This is expected to be the subject of future scrutiny by the Court of Justice of the European Union and the European Court of Human Rights.

Human rights are an integral part of the values enshrined in Article 2 of the Treaty on European Union, and the EU must do what it can to ensure that Member States comply with European law. This European policy analysis provides food for thought on how the EU might act in the future in similar circumstances and what role the EU will play in regulating the protection of human rights during a state of emergency.