Cutting EU funding for Member States which violate rule of lawMaria Koleva , Strasbourg
Member States jeopardising the rule of law will risk losing EU funds, said MEPs adopting on Thursday a regulation on the protection of the Union's budget in case of generalised deficiencies in the EU countries in this sphere. The new rules have to do with shortcomings in investigation of tax fraud, corruption or other offences affecting the implementation of the EU budget or recovery of unduly paid funds and in cases when government is meddling in courts.
Parliament said the EU Commission with the assistance of independent experts would be tasked with establishing “generalised deficiencies as regards the rule of law” and decide on measures that could include suspending EU budget payments or reducing pre-financing.
The Commission can decide, depending on the scope of the deficiencies, on one or several measures, such as suspending commitments, interrupting payment deadlines, reducing pre-financing and suspending payments. The decision would only be implemented once approved by Parliament and Council. Once the Member State remedies the deficits identified by the EU Commission, Parliament and EU ministers could unlock the funds.
The respect of rule of law and all EU values are core principles upon which we built the European project, Committee on Budgets co-rapporteur Eider Gardiazabal Rubial (S&D, ES) stressed, noting that no government can violate those values without suffering the consequences.
According to the Budgetary Control Committee co-rapporteur Petri Sarvamaa (EPP, FI) the most important aspect of this mechanism is the protection of the final beneficiaries. In our model, this is strengthened as compared to the original Commission proposal, he added.
MEPs asserted that the Commission will be assisted by a panel of independent experts in constitutional law and financial matters. This group would assess the situation in all Member States on a yearly basis and make a public summary of its findings.