Daniel Freund

23. July 2020 Anti-Corruption

Rule of law mechanism must not become a fig leaf for Orban and Co.

The European Parliament has voted in favor of a resolution today, reacting to the summit decision of the European Heads of State and Government (465+, 150-, 67 0). The Parliament expresses sharp criticism of the Council’s proposed cuts in funding for health, research and digitisation. Parliament rejects the Council’s position on the rule of law mechanism even more clearly. MEPs clearly argue for a functioning sanctions mechanism: it must be possible to stop the payment of EU funds to national governments in the event of breaches of the rule of law and fundamental rights in individual Member States.

Daniel Freund, Green rapporteur on the rule of law mechanism in the Committee on Budgetary Control comments:

“The European Parliament has made it clear that we need an effective sanctions mechanism for breaches of the rule of law in the EU. The previous proposals of the European Council are useless for this purpose, as they set the hurdles for financial sanctions too high. In the worst case, such a toothless mechanism could serve as a fig leaf for Orban and others. If sanctions fail to materialize under the new framework even though he is suppressing free media and the opposition in Hungary, Orban could still claim to play by the rules. Such a rule-of-law mechanism is, in doubt, more damaging than it helps. Sanctions therefore have to be triggered by reverse qualified majority in the Council: The EU Commission identifies violations of the rule of law and proposes sanctions that could only be blocked by a majority of the heads of state and government.”


BACKGROUND: On the Rule of Law in the resolution

Rule of law

Strongly regrets that the European Council significantly weakened the efforts of the Commission and the European Parliament to uphold rule of law, fundamental right and democracy in the framework of the MFF and the NGEU; reconfirms its demand to complete the co-legislator’s work on the Commission’s proposed mechanism to protect the EU budget where there is a systemic threat to the values enshrined in Article 2 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU), and where the financial interests of the Union is at stake; stresses that, to be effective, this mechanism should be activated by “reversed qualified majority”; underlines that this mechanism shall not affect the obligation of government entities or of Member States to make payments to final beneficiaries or recipients; underlines that the Rule of Law regulation [XXX/XXX] will be adopted under codecision;