The Socialists and Democrats called on the European Commission to trigger the EU’s new budget conditionality mechanism and bring forward the first cases against governments disrespecting the rule of law, without any further delay. In the plenary session in Strasbourg today, MEPs debated the EU’s mechanism that makes the rule of law a condition for national and local authorities to access EU funds. The S&D Group reminded the European Commission of its role as guardian of the EU treaties to ensure EU law is applied by all EU governments. The EU is built on the rule of law as a foundation and the S&D Group believes it is high time to trigger the rule of law mechanism and apply the conditionality regulation that has been in force since 1 January 2021.
Eider Gardiazabal MEP, S&D spokeswoman for budget, said:
“During its March session, this Parliament warned the European Commission about the risk of delaying the implementation of the rule of law mechanism. We don’t want to find ourselves in the same blocking situation we face with the implementation of article 7 - the procedure in the treaties of the EU to suspend certain rights from a member state. We have worked very hard to have in place this instrument of the rule of law conditionality. That is why we will keep pushing for its effective application as soon as possible.”
Birgit Sippel MEP, S&D spokeswoman for civil liberties, justice and home affairs, said:
“Respect for democracy and the rule of law is at the heart of who we are as socialists and democrats but they are also the basis on which the European Union is founded. We have to protect them – no ifs, no buts. The EU has several tools to protect the rule of law and we need to use all of them, without any further delay. Since 1 January 2021, the EU’s rule of law conditionality mechanism has been ready to protect taxpayers’ money from the autocrats willing to erode EU values and democratic standards. But faced with these bullies, the Commission seems to be reluctant to step up to the plate. To stop any more delay, we have no choice but to take legal action against the Commission’s failure to act. If the prospect of legal action under Article 265 is still not pressure enough to make the Commission bring forward the first cases under the conditionality mechanism, then we are fully committed to taking legal action - we will go as far as we need to protect people’s values and rights and the European Union as a whole.”
Isabel García Muñoz, MEP, S&D vice-chair of the European parliament’s committee on budgetary control, said:
“The European budget must be implemented in compliance with the principle of sound financial management, but this requires respect for the principles on which the Union is founded. In particular - the rule of law. We are very alarmed by the situation we are witnessing in some member states, where the rule of law is deteriorating dramatically. We cannot jeopardise Europe’s recovery by an incorrect or unfair use of the funds. I trust that the Commission will react to this wake-up call and that we will very soon see guidelines they insisted on for the application of the Conditionality Regulation. But above all, we insist that serious violations of the rule of law affecting the Union’s budget and attacking citizens’ freedoms and rights will be investigated and brought to an end.”