Two weeks to act or to undergo a trial before the Court of Justice of the Union: this is the meaning of a resolution that was to be voted massively, Thursday, June 10, the European Parliament. It intends to force the Commission to quickly implement the “conditionality mechanism” adopted at the end of 2020 and which makes the payment of Community funds, in particular those of the recovery plan, subject to respect for the rule of law. It is particularly aimed at Hungary and Poland, against which the Commission, moreover, recently launched so-called “article 7” procedures which could, in theory, lead to sanctions against member countries which do not respect democratic rules. “In theory”, because that implies an improbable unanimous vote.
The text drawn up by MEPs evokes the imperative to defend fundamental values within the Union when, they say, “The situation continues to deteriorate” in matters of media freedom, rights of association and assembly, rights of women, migrants, LGBT people, etc. The Commission and the Council are not using the tools at their disposal and are procrastinating, according to parliamentarians, to apply the conditionality rule, which was difficult to negotiate in December 2020.
After agreeing on the 750 billion euro stimulus plan, the Twenty-Seven had indicated that this mechanism would bind, from 1is January 2021, the payment of European money to respect the rule of law. Warsaw and Budapest were headlong and an arrangement was finally found: if a country decided to refer the matter to the Court of Justice of the Union to rule on the legality of this instrument, the Commission would wait for the decision of the judges of Luxembourg before proceeding. seize and bring a first case before the Council – which must be consulted. Hungary and Poland have – of course – decided to seize the Court.
MEPs believe that it is urgent to act, even before having a judgment that the judges will not deliver before the end of the year. They note that, recently, the Court of Justice also noted new offenses committed by Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic, while Bulgarian oligarchs were themselves punished by the United States.
“Use as much space as possible”
A majority of MEPs (apart from the Eurosceptics and the extreme right) refuse to be satisfied with the “guidelines” now promised by the Commission for the application of the mechanism and which would only come under a diversionary maneuver orchestrated by the Advice. “No guideline can undermine the intention of the co-legislator”, indicates the resolution, invoking the prerogative of the Strasbourg Assembly.
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