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EC gearing up to link funds to rule of law: commissioner

PR dla Zagranicy
Victoria Bieniek 14.02.2018 15:28
The European Commission is preparing new regulations that will tie pay-outs of EU funds with the rule of law situation in member states, EU budget commissioner Günther Oettinger said on Wednesday.
Günther Oettinger. Photo: ec.europa.euGünther Oettinger. Photo: ec.europa.eu

The announcement came amid an ongoing row between Warsaw and Brussels about the rule of law and separation of powers in Poland.

Last month European Justice Commissioner Vera said Brussels was working on a way of making pay-outs of all EU funds conditional on member states having an efficient judicial system and upholding the rule of law.

The European Commission in December took the unprecedented step of triggering Article 7 of the EU Treaty against Poland, stepping up pressure on Warsaw over controversial changes to the judicial system by the country’s ruling conservatives.

Rule of law

The move means that the EU’s executive wants the bloc’s member states to declare that the rule of law in Poland is under threat.

The move could pave the way for sanctions being imposed on Poland, for example suspending its voting rights in the European Union. But penalties on Warsaw would have to be backed unanimously by EU member states, while Hungary has said it would not support sanctions.

Poland's governing Law and Justice (PiS) party has said sweeping changes are needed to reform an inefficient and sometimes corrupt judicial system tainted by the communist past, accusing judges of being a self-serving clique often out of touch with the problems of ordinary citizens.

But opponents have accused Law and Justice of aiming to stack courts with its own candidates and to dismantle the rule of law.

Positive outlook

Following talks with Polish officials after a government reshuffle in Poland, European Commission President Jean-Claude Junker said there was a chance Warsaw and Brussels would arrive at a middle ground on their differences.

EU leaders are to discuss the bloc’s post-2020 budget plans, which were announced on Wednesday, at an informal summit next week.

Oettinger said he was in dialogue with member states to draw up proposed new rules on the EU budget by May.


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