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EC might cut funds for member states over ‘rule of law’ breaches

The European Union might cut funding for the member states that fail to observe the rule of law, the European Commission proposed in its multi-year budget, a move that might target Poland and Hungary.

“The new proposed tools would allow the union to suspend, reduce or restrict access to EU funding in a manner proportionate to the nature, gravity and scope of the rule of law deficiencies. Such a decision would be proposed by the Commission and adopted by the Council through reverse qualified majority voting,” a statement reads.

Today is an important moment for our Union. The new budget is an opportunity to shape our future as a new, ambitious Union of 27 bound together by solidarity. With today’s proposal we have put forward a pragmatic plan for how to do more with less. The economic wind in our sails gives us some breathing space but does not shelter us from having to make savings in some areas. We will ensure sound financial management through the first ever rule of law mechanism. This is what it means to act responsibly with our taxpayers’ money. The ball is now in the court of Parliament and Council. I strongly believe we should aim to have agreement before the European Parliament elections next year,” said European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in a press release.

The funding cut plan comes comes amid criticism over the Eurosceptic, populist rulers in Poland and Hungary where governments are accused of pressures on critical media and non-governmental groups, promoted harsh anti-immigration rhetoric and introduced amendments to the judiciary laws that critics say go against democratic standards.

“Only an independent judiciary that upholds the rule of law and legal certainty in all member states can ultimately guarantee that money from the EU budget is sufficiently protected,” the Commission said.

Overall, the Commission proposes a long-term budget of EUR 1.135 billion in commitments over the period from 2021 to 2027, equivalent to 1.11% of the EU27’s gross national income.

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