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S&Ds back court action for Commission’s failure to act: no country can breach the rule of law and enjoy EU funds


14 Oct 2021


Justice & Home Affairs

Today, S&D members in the legal affairs committee will vote in favour of legal action against the Commission for its failure to trigger the EU’s rule of law conditionality mechanism. In force since 1 January 2021, the mechanism makes access to EU funds conditional on respecting the rule of law and EU fundamental values.

Since its entry into force, the European Parliament has repeatedly sent strong messages reminding the Commission of its legal obligation to apply the regulation when there are breaches of the rule of law, such as in Poland and Hungary. With the Commission repeatedly avoiding its responsibilities, the S&D Group will vote to move ahead with legal action. The vote will take place at 19h00 today.

Tiemo Wölken, S&D spokesperson for the legal affairs committee, said:

“Instead of standing up to bullies and autocrats using EU money to dismantle democracy, the Commission has kicked the can down the road and failed to apply the rule of law conditionality regulation. The time has come for the Commission to face up to its failures and take responsibility. The prospect of legal action under Article 265 TFEU was clearly not enough to pressure the Commission into bringing forward the first cases under the conditionality mechanism. As socialists and democrats, we fought hard to put in place the rule of law conditionality mechanism and we want to see it applied. We stand ready to go as far as we need to protect people’s rights and values. If other political groups share the same commitment, they will vote with us for the Parliament to press ahead with legal proceedings. This is a vote to save the values upon which the EU is founded.”

Marek Belka, S&D vice-president, said:

“Triggering the rule of law conditionality mechanism is long overdue. Despite the best efforts of governments in Poland and Hungary to undermine this instrument, we were able to set in stone the principle that EU funds go hand in hand with respect for EU values like the rule of law. The consequences of inaction are there for all to see; they even appear in black and white in the Commission’s own ink. Its recent annual rule of law report lists the various ways in which the state of democracy in these two countries has been constantly deteriorating in front of our eyes. The Commission is duty-bound to act in the best interests of citizens everywhere in the EU, and especially where citizens’ interests are being harmed. Faced with an institution that is reluctant to live up to its responsibilities, Parliament has no choice but to take legal action to the next step.”