The MEPs have voted on Thursday, in Brussels, a draft bill making conditional the granting of European funds on the respect for the rule of law and on the effective combating of frauds and corruption, a release from the European Parliament informs, according to digi24.ro.
The draft bill reads that the European Commission will decide on the general deficiencies regarding the rule of law and on the measures to be made, which could include the suspension of payments from the EU budget of on cutting pre-financing.
The decision will be enforced after the approval by the European Parliament and the European Council. When the Member State remedies the deficiencies noticed by the European Commission, the European Parliament and the European Council can unblock the funds.
The European Commission may decide if the rule of law is under threat if one or more of the following are affected:
- The adequate functioning of the authorities of the Member State which implement the EU budget;
- The adequate functioning of the authorities conducting financial control;
- The adequate investigation of frauds, including the tax frauds, corruption and other violations that affect the implementation of the EU budget;
- Efficient judicial examination by independent courts;
- The recovery of excessively paid goods;
- The prevention and penalization of tax evasion and double taxation;
- The cooperation with OLAF and, as the case may be, with the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO).
In order to support the European Commission, a panel of constitutional law and financial independent experts, made up by an expert from each national parliament of the Member States and five experts appointed by the European Parliament, which are to assess annually the situation in the Member States and to draw up a yearly report on the findings.
Depending on the amplitude of deficiencies and the budget management procedure, the European Commission may decide the suspension of commitments, to discontinue the payment deadlines, cutting the pre-financing and/or suspension of payments, the same source informs.
The MEPs have initially agreed in January on the negotiation mandate of the European Parliament. However, the Member States did not agree on a common position, so that it is up to the European Parliament in the new term to negotiate the final form of this draft bill.