The EU Parliament, with the support of the Nordics, have succeeded to get a working Rule of Law principle enshrined in the new budget proposal. This was originally tried earlier in the week without success and referred to in our earlier column.
The newly agreed text sets out a mechanism where the EU can now stop EU funding once the Rule of Law principles have been broken or where it is evident that new government decisions represent a future risk for EU finances.
Mr Sarvamaa, a Finnish MEP, leading the talks in the EU parliament, was satisfied that the text covers most of the important issues like, for example when there is a clear risk that judges may take arbitrary decisions or disregard cases of corruption and fraud if the independence of national courts is undermined. Furthermore, the tool gives the European Commission the power to identify breaches of the Rule of Law in a member state and to propose a suspension or reduction of budget money. This decision would then have to be approved by a majority of EU governments within a month.
The two countries that have opposed this Rule of Law clause, Poland and Hungary, are in urgent need of EU grants during the pandemic and further delays would have endangered the whole budget process and their potential access to EU funding!
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