One of the main knots has been overcome. The link between respect for the rule of law and the distribution of European funds, whether from the multi-annual budget (the MFF) or from the coronavirus crisis recovery fund, had stalled negotiations between the European Parliament and the Council of the EU ( the governments of the 27). But this Thursday, after half a dozen face-to-face meetings, the blockade has been overcome, as announced by the parties, including the Socialist rapporteur, Eider Gardiazabal (PSOE / S & D).
Orbán uses the EU’s anti-crisis fund as a hostage to continue bypassing the rule of law
Gardiazabal considers “great news that at last there is a mechanism that links the budget of the European Union to the rule of law, as we socialists have claimed in recent years.” The socialist negotiator has referred to the agreement reached this morning with the Council as “a great victory for the principles of the European Union”, which can now be “defended effectively”.
“Europe is a community of values based on human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights. Being part of the EU means maintaining a firm commitment to the defense of those values, and, therefore, for years we have been demanding an effective mechanism to ensure that these principles are met, “he said.
The Socialist MEP stressed that “the final agreement includes a broad scope of application, as requested by Parliament, which includes not only the fundamental values contained in Article 2 of the Treaty on European Union, but also attacks on judicial independence and tax fraud “.
“We have ensured”, says Gardiazabal, “that the possible sanction falls on the states that do not respect the values of the European Union, and not on the final beneficiaries of European funds. Whether they are researchers, scholars or companies, they have to to know that they will not be the ones who pay the consequences of their governments not respecting the rule of law. ”
The proposal of the German rotating presidency of the EU was too lax for the groups in the European Parliament and for countries like the Netherlands. However, it was excessive for countries such as Poland and Hungary, subject to censorship procedures by both the Council and the European Parliament, for their violations of the rule of law, sanctioned by the Court of Justice of the European Union.
These reluctance of the Government of Viktor Orbán threaten to derail the entire package if it does not ratify in its national parliament that the European Union launches new community taxes for the repayment of the debt of the debt issued by the European Commission of 750,000 million to finance the recovery fund.
The German ambassador to the European Union, Michael Clauss, said, after the provisional agreement for a new conditionality regime: “It is an important milestone in our efforts to finalize the next multi-annual EU budget and the recovery package. The new conditionality mechanism will strengthen the protection of the EU budget when breaches of the principles of the rule of law lead to misuse of EU funds. ”
“The time has come to reach an agreement on the rest of the package as well,” said Clauss, in relation to the regulations of the fund itself, which will begin to be negotiated next week; own resources – new taxes – and the increase in some budget items: “We have a historic financial package of 1.8 trillion euros on the table. With the second wave of the pandemic hitting member states hard, there is no time to lose “.
“With today’s agreement in the trilogue”, said the European Commissioner for Budgets, Johannes Hahn, “we managed to establish a key pillar of the general construction of the multiannual budget. We will have an effective mechanism to protect taxpayers’ money, in case that the rule of law situation no longer allows us to trace EU funds. The introduction of this conditionality is a step and a clear signal that the European Union is ready to protect the interests of its citizens. I hope that the agreement Today allows us to fully focus on finalizing the multi-annual budget agreement and the recovery fund. Citizens, businesses, regions need it. ”
Sources from the German presidency have explained that “the conditionality regime, which is part of the package of measures linked to the next multiannual financial framework and the recovery plan, makes it possible to protect the EU budget when it is established that violations of the principles of the The rule of law in a Member State affects or may seriously affect the sound financial management of the EU budget or the protection of the EU’s financial interests in a sufficiently direct way. ”
“All EU funds included in the resources allocated through the recovery instrument are covered”, explain the sources: “The interim agreement with Parliament is based on the political guidance provided by the EU leaders at the meeting of the European Council from July 17 to 21, 2020. It will now be presented for approval by both institutions. ”