Dispute over rule of law mechanism: The European Union Parliament issues an ultimatum to the Commission

Status: 25.03.2021 9:12 PM

The European Parliament increases pressure on the European Union Commission. It must withhold funds from European Union countries if it violates the rule of law. The dispute can land in court.

From Matthias Reich,
ARD studio Brussels

Members of the European Parliament rarely agree. A broad coalition of Christian Democrats, socialists, liberals, Greens and leftists threaten to bring you to court for inaction – which would be a very rare case in the history of the European Union.

Matthias Reich
ARD studio Brussels

But we can’t wait any longer, said Green politician Daniel Freund:

This is the final warning shot from the European Parliament to the Commission. Finally do your job and make sure there are consequences for those who trample the rule of law. Because the rule of law in Europe can not wait. So if there are no proceedings against Hungary by the summer, Ms. von der Leyen will have to file her response before the European Court of Justice. ”

In the event of violations, the money tap can be closed

The so-called rule of law mechanism has been in effect since January 2021. After that, the European Union can freeze funds if countries systematically violate the rule of law.

Katarina Barley explains that this is primarily aimed at Poland and Hungary, but it has not been effective so far. The politician of the Social Democratic Party is the Vice President of the European Parliament. “The Commission has now committed itself not to take action, or at least not to impose any sanctions yet. You want to wait for a decision from the European Court of Justice, which has to be done on the basis of lawsuits from Poland and Hungary. This is an illegal approach,” he criticized Barley.

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Time game

But it was the price that Poland and Hungary agreed to on the European Union budget, including Corona aid, last December. Above all, this will save time as EU money continues to seep into corrupt structures, says Christian Social Union politician Monica Holmayr, who is also chair of the Budget Monitoring Committee.

“It is extremely important for us that European funds are only granted if member states are willing to exercise the rule of law,” Holmeyer emphasized. In other words, if it is guaranteed that “money is being given properly and legally to a wide range of applicants – not just to a small group of people or even to minority rule or politicians who have gotten rich.”

“The rule of law in Europe is on fire”

Moritz Corner, a politician in the Free Democratic Party, sees the same. Every day the European Union does not operate is a victory for those who despise the rule of law. “The rule of law is undermined every day, the independence of the judiciary is attacked, and the money is misused,” said Corner:

In principle, the European Union Commission is behaving like a fire brigade leading into a fire and first and foremost discussing how one should put it out now. The rule of law in Europe is on fire – the Commission must finally take action against it and must ultimately put out the fire.

The deadline set by the European Union Parliament now runs until June 1. Then, at the latest, the European Union Commission should present a roadmap and explain when and how it plans to use the mechanism against EU member states with systematic violations of the rule of law.

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