Rule of law: EP President demands action from Commission over member states' 'flagrant violations'

European Parliament President David Sassoli calls out European Commission for failing to crack down on wayward member states violating the rule of law

European Parliament President David Sassoli
European Parliament President David Sassoli

European Parliament President David Sassoli did not mince his words when he opened the EP’s plenary session on Wednesday by calling out the European Commission for failing to crack down on wayward member states violating the rule of law.

As far as some member states are concerned, Sassoli said without mentioning any specific names, “We are convinced that there have been flagrant violations of the principles of the rule of law by certain member states, which need to be sanctioned”.

Following the EP’s resolution of 10 June calling for action from the Commission, Sassoli said he wrote to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Wednesday on behalf of Parliament and on the basis of Article 265 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union “to invite the Commission to meet its obligations of guardians of the Treaties and to safeguard full and immediate application of the regulation on the conditionality on the respect of the rule of law.”

Under EU rules, budget payments can be withheld from member states where it is established that rule of law breaches have compromised the proper management of the EU funds. As such, the new conditionality regime makes any disbursements of EU funds to member states conditional on the state of their respective rule of law.

This rule of law conditionality requires that breaches must affect or seriously risk affecting the sound financial management of the Union budget or the protection of the financial interests of the Union in a sufficiently direct way.

Hungary, Czechia and Malta are the three leading countries in the crosshairs and who could be facing budget cuts over the rule of law infractions.

The EP has been calling on the EC to take action and apply the conditionality rules, but the latter appears somewhat reticent to do so.

On that, Sassoli added, “Of course, in the absence of any reaction from the Commission, and within the timeframe specified in the Treaties, we will take action in the European Court of Justice.”

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This article is part of a content series called Ewropej. This is a multi-newsroom initiative part-funded by the European Parliament to bring the work of the EP closer to the citizens of Malta and keep them informed about matters that affect their daily lives. This article reflects only the author’s view. The European Parliament is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.

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