News & Analysis

EU Moves Closer Towards Tying Cash to Rule of Law

Bad news for Poland’s Law and Justice Party (PiS), and for the country itself. The European Commissioner for Justice, Consumer Affairs and Gender Equality Věra Jourova said on April 25 the introduction of a mechanism that makes access to EU funds conditional on the rule of law.

“The College of Commissioners is in favour of introducing a mechanism that makes access to EU funds dependent on the rule of law. We are finalising work on this decision, which we will be formally announced next week,” Ms Jourova said.

Ms Jourava’s statement did not come as a surprise: it became known at the last meeting of EU commissioners that the new EU budget will include a mechanism binding the payment of European funds with the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary.

Ms Jourova has already mentioned how the rule of law plays an important role in the functioning of the EU: “Everyone who lives in Europe must accept these fundamental values, including law and order, equality between men and women and non-discrimination of religious and other minorities. Whoever does not intend to respect either the law or our democratic lifestyle, should not live in Europe,” Ms Jourova told Der Spiegel.

Following the commissioner’s statement, Poland’s Deputy Foreign Minister for European Affairs Konrad Szymański said: “any formula that does not fulfill treaty rules, which means unanimity in the European Council, may turn out to be an unlawful breach of [EU] treaties.”

According to Mr Szymański, who was speaking to the Polish news agency PAP, the stance of the Polish government on the proposal will be dependent on the final wording of the provisions.

“We will not accept any discretionary mechanisms that would turn the management of funds into a made-to-order instrument of political pressure… The budget must be governed by law, not discretion,” Mr Szymański added.