EU leaders right to suspend budget money from countries who breach fundamental rights

07 November 2020

Labour Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs Brendan Howlin has welcomed an agreement by EU leaders on rules to suspend budget money to member states that breach fundamental rights.

The tool gives the European Commission the power to identify breaches of the rule of law in member states and to propose a suspension or reduction of budget money. This decision would then need to be approved by a majority of EU governments, which would hold a vote within one month.

Deputy Howlin said:

“The rule of law and adherence to European norms of behaviour is fundamental to the existence of the European Union. We have seen a number of incidents in certain member states such as Poland and Hungary in recent years that have violated the principals of the European Union.

“Respect for freedom of expression, freedom of the press and an independent judiciary are all bedrocks of our Union. There must be capacity to take meaningful action against any nation that tramples on these principles.

“I welcome the report in the Financial Times that indicates that the EU is heading in that direction. We have seen a worrying slide towards authoritarianism in certain member states and the union must assert its principles. The European Union is more than a financial union, it is a political union and if member states want to reap the benefits of membership then they must themselves accept the fundamental principles of the Union.

“As we witness the unprecedented events in the US following the Presidential election, the protection of democracy in Europe becomes even more urgent.

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