Rule of law and the recovery fund (own-initiative opinion - FRRL)

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ETSK:n lausunto: Rule of law and the recovery fund (own-initiative opinion - FRRL)

Key points

The EESC:

  • Highlights that it is essential to impose high and dissuasive sanctions in the event of systematic shortcomings concerning the rule of law that endanger the European Union budget.
  • Considers that it is of paramount importance that the recovery programmes presented by the Member States set out the measures they will take to strengthen the rule of law.
  • Recommends for all programmes supported by the EU budget to be subject to legal requirements on freedom of information and transparency.
  • Calls for participation in the European Public Prosecutor's Office enhanced cooperation to become a prerequisite for participating in programmes financed by the EU budget.
  • Calls for the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) to be developed into an agency for the rule of law and administrative efficiency.
  • Considers that systematic shortcomings concerning the rule of law in the Member States have a detrimental impact on the EU budget and calls for the burden of proving that the implementation of EU-funded programmes and the protection of the EU budget are guaranteed to rest on Member States.
  • Calls for the EU to protect NGOs promoting human rights and the rule of law from undue influence and support their funding.
  • Calls for the European institutions to launch a campaign with civil society entitled "My EU – My Rights" that would initiate an EU-wide dialogue on the importance of the rule of law.

In 2018, the EESC adopted an Opinion on "The Union's budget and the rule of law" (SOC/598) in which it supported the principle of corrective measures regarding Member States that commit serious violations of the rule of law in Europe. In the present Own-Initiative Opinion, the EESC insists on the actual implementation of Regulation (EU) 2020/2092 "on a general regime of conditionality for the protection of the Union budget". The EESC demands the imposition of swift and comprehensive sanctions for breaches of the rule of law which put the Union's budget at risk. It also recalls the importance for Member States to integrate measures to strengthen the rule of law in their recovery programmes. The EESC also supports a stronger role for the European Public Prosecutor's Office (EPPO), European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF), and civil society in the area.