The European Court of Justice upheld today the validity of the rule of law Conditionality Regulation, as it dismissed the requests by Hungary and Poland to annul it.
The ruling confirms the European Parliament’s long-standing position to protect the European Union’s budget from misuse by national governments that are in breach of the rule of law.
On this occasion, President of the European Parliament Roberta Metsola said: “The European Parliament now expects the Commission to apply the conditionality mechanism swiftly. Conditionality of EU funds linked to respect of the rule of law is non-negotiable for the European Parliament.”
“The rule of law is the basis on which our Treaties are built. It is fundamental that all Member States adhere to the Treaties they all signed up to when they joined the European Union. Values matter, and citizens have the right to know how common funds are used”, underlined President Metsola.
The regulation, strongly supported by the European Parliament, was adopted in December 2020. Following parliamentary resolutions, the European Parliament submitted in October 2021 a lawsuit to the Court of Justice against the European Commission for its failure to apply the Conditionality Regulation.
Today the European Parliament’s negotiating team will hold a press conference on the ECJ ruling at 11.30, and the Parliament’s plenary session will debate the topic at 16.00.
Following the Court of Justice ruling on the “rule of law conditionality” mechanism, MEPs demand that the Commission applies it and protects EU values.
“The rule of law is our treasure”, said Clément Beaune on behalf of the French Presidency of the Council. He welcomed the “necessary legal clarity” given today by the Court and said that the French Presidency now expects the Commission to implement it. The French Presidency is committed to mobilising all the tools to protect the rule of law, he stressed.
Budget Commissioner Johannes Hahn said that the Court’s ruling is now being analysed by the Commission, which will swiftly finalise its guidelines on how to apply the regulation. He underlined that the mechanism is one of the tools in the EU’s rule of law protection toolbox and that it is key to choose the right tools to address specific problems. He reassured MEPs that the Commission was monitoring the situation across member states to identify any potential breaches to the rule of law and pointed out that it has already sent informal letters to two member states. Pointing to President Ursula von der Leyen’s statement, he said that when the conditions of the regulation have been fulfilled, the Commission will act with determination.
“Today is a day of victory for Parliament”, MEPs said, stressing that the ECJ ruling confirmed the Parliament’s stance that EU money should not go to governments that violate EU values. Many underlined that now the Commission had run out of excuses for delays. Many speakers said they had had enough of hearing bureaucratic excuses, while some member states were being taken over by tyrants, with justice systems degrading, freedom of press restricted and minorities’ rights curtailed. They recalled that the Commission’s role is to guard the EU treaties and protect the founding values to which all EU countries have committed.
Some speakers accused the EU institutions of punishing Hungary and Poland for political reasons and discriminating between “better” and “worse”. Rule of law problems and politicised justice systems exist also in other EU countries, such as Germany and Spain, they said.