Taking into consideration the policy of certain states, which violate the rule of law and defy the EU values, it is easily understood that the immediate action of the Union is necessary. In this context, as we talk for the access to funding programs, a crucial aspect of European policy, there is a clear need for decisive initiatives. That being said, we underline once more that said actions will be initiated when a problem is clearly visible and that they are to be constructive and not vengeful, even towards the most disrespectful members of our community, such as Hungary and Poland. Our claim is also backed by the Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the protection of the Union’s budget, in case of generalized deficiencies as regards the rule of law in the member-states.
We would like to clarify is that the link between the EU Budget and the rule of law could be considered as an extension of the already existing –and enormously just and detailed- template, regarding general violations of European Law. However, the need for this specific tool is much more urgent, as it concerns fundamental breaches and not some violations of a single Directive, but the moral system on which the very existence of the Union is based.
To be more specific, we would encourage funds’ withdrawal in cases where a member-state evidently and repeatedly endangers the independence of the judiciary system, failing to prevent, correct and sanction arbitrary or unlawful decisions by public authorities or fails to ensure the protection of human rights within its territory. As infringements would also be considered, on the part of any member-state, deviations from the Copenhagen Criteria, the principles stated in the Article 2 of the TEU and the European Acquis.
We agree that we want the same, that is, for the values and the law to be respected, but we have a fundamentally different approach. You see, there is too much at stake, in our opinion, to solely take a step back and pray that our pleas and suggestions regarding enormous offenses will change the situation. And that is because, apart from implementing budget control, which is in our exclusive competences, we have no other meaningful means to make a difference in this case. We doubt that we could weaken illiberal regimes and human rights violations just by investing more in education and information, as this is more of a preventive measure, not useful when the confrontation of an immediate threat is needed. The EU is a sui generis organization, not a supranational one, and thus we have to consider our options based on our structure, as well as the principles of conferral and proportionality. And given a realistic approach, targeting funds is the only measure, severe enough to make an impact. Besides, you cannot exactly reason with the irrational, which takes place in those, extreme, but still very real, situations.
To conclude, any country that opposes a plan to associate EU funds to the rule of law, may not be a good steward of the Union’s resources. In this case, there is a strong possibility that the states who deny this proposal, might not guarantee the sound financial management and protection of EU money. It is therefore important for the EU to be vigilant, in order to ensure both the protection of EU budget and the safeguarding of the EU’s values and interests.
And last, but not least, some food for thought: if someone threatened you with a knife, would you do anything possible to prevent them or would you lecture them into sparing your life?