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Lusa - Business News - EU/Presidency: Recommended to await court ruling on rule of law mechanism

Brussels, June 9, 2021 (Lusa) – The Portuguese presidency of the European Union Council said on Wednesday that it understands the urgency of the European Parliament in applying the conditionality mechanism for access to EU funds to respect the rule of law, but prefers to wait for the ruling of the Court of Justice.
In a debate in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, MEPs again called for the adoption, without further delay, of specific guidelines by the Commission on the application of the regulation on budgetary conditionality to the rule of law.
Speaking in the debate on behalf of the European Council, Portugal's secretary of state for European affairs, Ana Paula Zacarias, reiterated that the Council prefers to wait for the Court of Justice to rule on Hungary's and Poland's appeals against the mechanism, not least in order to strengthen its "legal soundness".
"The Commission has made progress in its work on guidelines which will be essential to ensure a fair, impartial and fact-based application of the regulation".
However, she recalled, "two Member States introduced in March an appeal for the annulment of this regulation", agreed by EU heads of state and government in 2020.
"As mentioned by the European Council in its December [2020] conclusions, and without prejudice to the independence of the Commission, the Council believes that it would be important for the Commission to hear the judgment of the European Court of Justice before finalising its guidelines," Ana Paula Zacarias argued then.
"Taking into account the Court of Justice's conclusions in the guidelines will increase the legal soundness of the application of the regulation", which "will also facilitate a faster process by the Council, if and when a proposal is presented by the Commission".
"Let me conclude by assuring you that the proper functioning of the Union, the protection of its budget and respect for the rule of law will remain a shared objective between us all", she declared.
In her speech, the Secretary of State had already highlighted the priority given by the rotating Portuguese presidency of the Council of the EU to the rule of law, recalling the international conference held in Coimbra on 17 and 18 May.
Last March, the European Parliament warned the European Commission that it was ready to go to court if the Community executive further delays the application of the mechanism that makes access to funds conditional on respect for the rule of law, a position that may 'materialise' in a resolution to be adopted on Thursday.
The Commission's Budget Commissioner, Johannes Hann, also speaking today during the debate in the Chamber on behalf of the Commission, explained all the work the EU executive has done to ensure "the success of the conditionality mechanism that European taxpayers expect and deserve".
Johannes Hann therefore said he could not understand why the assembly was going ahead with an action before the Court, as provided for in the 'draft' resolution that will be put to the vote on Thursday.
"I honestly don't see any justification for them to go to Court against the Commission, but of course the decision belongs to them," he said.
MEPs say it is essential to look after the integrity of the EU budget, especially as unprecedented funding is being disbursed under the EU's €750 billion Recovery Fund to overcome the Covid-19 crisis.
According to MEPs, the existing rules on the rule of law, in force since the beginning of the year, should be applied and "cannot be subject to the adoption of guidelines", a measure that the Commission is currently preparing, adding that if the EU executive considers that such guidelines are necessary, then it should adopt them by 01 June, which has not happened.
On March 11, Poland and Hungary filed a lawsuit in the EU Court of Justice to challenge the mechanism that makes the agreement of European funds conditional on respect for the rules of the rule of law, implementing an announcement made on the occasion of the agreement reached by the 27 last December on the Recovery Fund and the Union's multi-annual budget for 2021-2027.
Warsaw and Budapest, both regularly accused of violating the rule of law, agreed to lift their veto on a compromise in December after the European Council accepted that the mechanism should not be implemented before the Court of Justice rules on an appeal for annulment by a member state, a process that could drag on.

Agency : LUSA

Date : 2021-06-10 10:27:54


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