Enforcing the rule of law: What can the European Union do to prevent rule of law deterioration from within? (ENROL)

ENROL studies what the EU and its member states can do to contain, reverse and prevent democratic backsliding and rule of law regression.

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(Photo: Zuma Press/NTB)

About the project

Respect for the rule of law and democratic standards have significantly deteriorated in several EU member states, especially in Poland and Hungary. Such a regression damages the functioning of the European Union as a legal system, its legitimacy and stability as a political order, and its trustworthiness as an international partner. EU institutions have been struggling to address this unprecedented predicament in a decisive fashion, while EU partners have signaled concerns. ENROL will engage in an interdisciplinary assessment of the conditions for effective and legitimate EU actions in response to rule of law backsliding and propose solutions to the existing bottlenecks. 


ENROL will map out the ongoing development of the EU's rule of law enforcement toolkit and chart how EU institutions have used it so far. The project will investigate why EU institutions have chosen to employ some tools, refrained from engaging in others, while continuing to develop new ones. ENROL will identify existing bottlenecks which stand in the way of more forceful EU action, in the form of political incentives, institutional mechanisms as well as legal and normative concerns about the legitimacy and effectiveness of different available tools.

ENROL will also study the implications of EU action—and inaction—for domestic political resistance against backsliding, with a particular focus on Poland, one of the EU's largest member states where the political struggle over rule of law is ongoing.

Based on its findings, ENROL will set out the legal and normative conditions for an effective and legitimate EU response to rule of law and democratic backsliding.

For more information, please consult ENROL’s project plan.


ENROL is funded through the Norwegian Research Council’s Fellesløft (Large-scale Interdisciplinary Researcher Project) funding initiative. Fellesløftet is a collaboration between the research institutions and the Norwegian Research Council. 

Project period: April 2022 – January 2027

Tags: European Union, rule of law, Democracy
Published Feb. 23, 2022 4:08 PM - Last modified May 30, 2022 12:18 PM



Daniel Naurin, ARENA Centre for European Studies, University of Oslo

Christophe Hillion, Centre for European Law, Department for Public and International Law, University of Oslo