free press

"Every Member State that wants to receive EU money must stick to the basic principles of democracy and the rule of law. There must be conditionality. The EU is not a cash machine for countries that disregard fundamental rules", said the EPP Group's Tomáš Zdechovský MEP and Petri Sarvamaa MEP today.

The European Parliament will debate a draft law this afternoon which would cut EU funding for countries which threaten the EU's financial interests by violating the rule of law. Funding would be linked, amongst others, to the independence of national courts, the fight against corruption or the fairness of public procurement procedures. The law was proposed in May 2018, approved by Parliament in 2019 and has been blocked by EU Member States ever since.

The EPP Group sees this law as an essential part of the next long-term EU budget. Sarvamaa, who is negotiating the law on behalf of the Parliament, said: "We were ready to start negotiations last year, but we never heard back from the Council. Instead, we read in the news that Council President Charles Michel plans to water down the plans. I say to the Member States: do not expect the Parliament to rubber stamp a fait accompli. Start the talks with us. Europeans all over the continent are waiting for us to act."

"Living up to EU values is a strict condition for all countries when accessing the EU. This condition must also be applied to the later use of EU funds in Member States. If governments decide to disregard this condition by fiddling, for example, with the independence of media or judges, they must stop receiving EU funds", said Zdechovský, who is the EPP Group’s Spokesman in Parliament’s Budgetary Control Committee.

NOTE TO EDITORS

The EPP Group is the largest political group in the European Parliament with 187 Members from all EU Member States

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