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MEPs approve 'rule of law conditionality' for access to EU funds

16 December 2020, 18:25 CET
MEPs approve 'rule of law conditionality' for access to EU funds

Photo © Yanchenko - Fotolia

(STRASBOURG) - EU states failing to uphold the EU's common values risk losing access to EU funds, following MEPs' approval Wednesday of a regulation to protect EU funds from being misused by governments who bend the rule of law.

Under the regulation, EU budget payments can be withheld from countries in which established breaches of the rule of law compromise management of the EU funds. At the same time, the EU is ensuring that final beneficiaries do not end up paying the bill.

"The conditionality regime will enable us to scrutinise dubious plans to apply EU funds against the EU's values", said Parliament's co-rapporteur Petri Sarvamaa, MEP. The Commission should independently start implementing this regulation from 1 January 2021, he added.

After establishing that there has been a breach, the Commission will propose that the conditionality mechanism should be triggered against an EU government, and subsequently either cut or freeze payments to that member state from the EU budget.

The Council will then have one month to vote on the proposed measures (or three months in exceptional cases), by a qualified majority.

MEPs succeeded in shortening the time that the EU institutions will have to adopt measures against a member state, if risks of breaches of the rule The new law does not only apply when EU funds are misused directly, such as cases of corruption or fraud. It will also apply to systemic breaches of fundamental values that all member states must respect, such as democracy or the independence of the judiciary, when those breaches affect – or risk affecting -– the management of EU funds.

To ensure that final beneficiaries who count and depend on EU support – such as students, farmers, or NGOs – are not punished for the actions of their governments, they will be able to file a complaint to the Commission via a web platform, which will assist them in ensuring they receive the due amounts. The Commission will also be able to make a financial correction by reducing the next instalment of EU support to the respective country in question.

Following the Parliament's vote, the new regulation applies to all EU funds under shared management from 1 January 2021.

Further information , European Parliament

The adopted text (16.12.2020)

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