MEPs: Start applying budget conditionality immediately

The budget conditionality regulation does not require any additional clarification to be applied and rule of law breaches must be addressed without delay, MEPs said on Thursday. In a resolution adopted by the Budget and Budgetary Control committees, they expressed regret that the Commission has decided to abide by the non-binding December 2020 European Council conclusions and delay application of the budget conditionality regulation.

"We are now one step closer to finally applying the Conditionality regulation against those breaking the Rule of Law in the member states. With the Parliament's contribution to the guidelines, we offer the Commission the means and tools to act without hesitation. The regulation is ready to be used”, co-rapporteur Petri Sarvamaa (EPP, FI) said after the vote.

MEPs stressed that the guidelines cannot alter, expand or restrict the scope of the budget conditionality regulation and that, in order to add any value, they must clarify how the legislative provisions will be applied in practice, outlining the procedure, definitions and methodology. They also call on the Commission to set out a “clear, precise and user-friendly system” for submitting complaints under the regulation.

According to MEPs rule of law breaches must be addressed without delay. They called on the Commission to investigate swiftly any potential breaches of the principles of the rule of law “that affect or seriously risk affecting the sound financial management of the Union budget”, by pointing out that “the situation in some member states already warrants immediate action”. The Commission should report to Parliament on the first cases under investigation by October 2021 the latest, they pointed out. 

MEPs also criticised the Commission for having missed the deadline set by Parliament to apply the regulation and adopt the guidelines by 1 June. They welcomed the 23 June letter by the Parliament President that if the Commission does not act, the EP will take action in the Court of Justice.

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