The home straight: an EU mechanism for defending the rule of law

20 October 2020 | Members' Corner

Read the commentary on the current decisive stage of discussion about new mechanisms for defending the rule of law in the European Union by Piotr Buras, the head of the Warsaw office of the European Council on Foreign Relations and Szymon Ananicz, a senior expert at ideaForum at the Stefan Batory Foundation.
The discussion about new mechanisms for defending the rule of law in the European Union is entering its decisive stage. However, the scale of the newly-announced report by the European Commission on the state of the rule of law in the EU is not commensurate with the size of the problem. The same is true of the current version of the draft legislation on introducing a mechanism making the disbursal of EU funds conditional on a member state respecting the rule of law. If the European Parliament and the “Group of Friends of the Rule of Law” do not show determination, this unique opportunity to halt the erosion of the EU’s foundations will be wasted.

Linking payments from the EU budget to respect for the rule of law may be the EU’s most effective defence mechanism for dealing with the most serious crisis it faces. To this end, systemic breaches of judicial independence should be clearly defined as “conditions” that can trigger the conditionality mechanism. Failure to comply with Court of Justice of the European Union judgments concerning Article 19 (on effective legal protection) should result in the European Commission requesting that the country lose access to the EU funds. Reference to “sufficiently direct” influence on how EU funds are managed should be withdrawn as a fundamental criterion. The “safeguard” of appealing to the European Council should be removed.

Read the full article here.