EU Lawmakers Back Funding Stick to Stop Rule-of-Law Offenders

(Bloomberg) -- European Union lawmakers voted to link billions of euros in the bloc’s future funding to rule-of-law standards, in an attempt to step up efforts to stop the erosion of democracy in the world’s largest trading bloc.

The rules approved by the European Parliament on Thursday would allow financial sanctions, including the suspension of payments from the EU budget, for violations such as undermining judicial independence or failing to tackle corruption. EU government ministers must also agree to the new measures for them to take effect in the next seven-year budget cycle starting from 2021.

The proposal is vehemently opposed by countries such as Hungary and Poland, both net beneficiaries of the common budget that are facing EU probes for suspected rule-of-law violations. The governments in Budapest and Warsaw, led by illiberal leaders at the forefront of a nationalist surge in Europe, say its implementation could be easily politicized.

“The respect of rule of law and all EU values are core principles upon which we built the European project,” said Eider Gardiazabal Rubial, an EU lawmaker from Spain. “No government can violate those values without suffering the consequences.”

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