EU money is tied to EU values — EU Court of Justice strengthens the rule of law

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The long-awaited ruling of the top European Court, issued today, confirms the legitimacy of protecting the Union budget from negative effects resulting from breaches of the principles of the rule of law. The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) has always supported the mechanism to tie adherence to the rule of law with the disbursement of EU recovery funds.

Today's decision of the Court in support of the conditionality tool has reaffirmed the European Union's efforts to limit the erosion of democratic principles in the Member States. It is a strong signal that EU values such as the rule of law and solidarity are non-negotiable, EESC president Christa Schweng said.

According to one of EESC's most recent opinions, The rule of law and the recovery fund, (20 January 2022), systematic shortcomings in the rule of law undermine the implementation of EU-funded programmes, and the absence of a rapid and comprehensive EU response to this jeopardises the EU's credibility. The EESC recommends that sanctions be applied swiftly when breaches of law present a risk to the Union's financial interests.

Addressing backsliding on the rule of law by any Member State is important in order to preserve the legitimacy of the EU's fundamental values, president Schweng said.
The court case that challenged the conditionality mechanism was brought by Poland and Hungary. The two countries claimed inter alia the mechanism exceeded the powers of the EU.

Organised civil society regularly states its concerns at breaches of the rule of law and judicial independence and expresses its wish for the Member States to adhere to EU standards.