77% of Europeans want EU funds to be conditional on respect for rule of law. This was according to an October 2020 poll commissioned by the European Parliament. Almost 8 in 10 EU citizens think money from the EU’s long-term budget and coronavirus recovery fund should only be distributed to Member States that can guarantee judicial independence, press freedom, protection for civil liberties, etc.

There are now reports that European leaders may be close to adopting such an approach. Hungary (which has, together with Poland, had been the target of multiple infringement proceedings from the EU over rule of law issues) had previously said such conditionality would be “unacceptable”.

Should EU funds be linked to rule of law? Should money from the EU’s long-term budget and coronavirus recovery fund be conditional on having strong judicial independence, press freedom, and protection for civil liberties? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

IMAGE CREDITS: (c) Council of the European Union

89 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar

    Debating Europe: Do you have on hand any binding and commonly accepted documents codifying eugenic abortion as a civil liberty or a human right?

    • avatar

      Sorry, Gerhard, laughy faces might be an effective public relations tactic, but they don’t answer the question.

      (Besides that, I am not a PiS supporter, so I have varying opinions on their different policies. However, I do feel that support for eugenics should be treated equivalently to support for nazism.)

    • avatar

      Ignazio: I promise I’ll answer your question, but you have to answer mine first.

      Personally, I wouldn’t mind if the EU decided to keep its money, that’s the only thing keeping the institution intact.

    • avatar

      What about LGBT-Free zones (strefy wolne od LGBT)? what would binding and commonly accepted documents on human rights say about that one?

    • avatar

      I thought this was a debating site? I am still waiting for an answer to my first question…

    • avatar

      Let’s hope it’s keep it’s money and kicks Poland out. They can cry back to Putin’s love as they so desperately want.

      I don’t feel you need an answer as these nations are breaking the law on many fronts

    • avatar

      It’s funny how 10 years ago, Poland was villified as one of the most “russophobic” countries in Europe, and now all of a sudden it is stereotyped as being subservient to Russia. The truth is actually more complicated, which is one reason I am not a supporter of any political parties.

      But more generally speaking, it seems I’ve hit a weak spot in the argument, since all anyone can do is throw inaccurate insults or respond with fake news.

      Let me recap: I am not PiS. We can argue about the substance of their policies, but for the moment I’m still waiting for anyone to show me how it would be legally incumbent upon Poland to support eugenic abortion. For what it’s worth, Russia is one of the world’s most abortion-friendly countries.

    • avatar

      Well, you get points for ethnic stereotyping, at least.

      “They wish to be Putin’s Russia but then on their own.”

      Thoughtful of you to speak for a whole country, which you clearly know little about.

      I’ll make it easy for you: you don’t have to look through any law books, because there is no legal support for the argument that eugenic abortion is a human right or a civil liberty. There is, however, solid scientific support for the idea that an independent organism exists from the moment of conception.

      So the only pseudo-argument you would have left is to claim that the fetus is not the SAME organism as the baby that results 9 months later. I’ll spare you questions about the ship of Theseus, and encourage you to try this argument if you sign a contract, and then try to claim that your cells have been replaced since the time of signing, so it’s no longer binding.

  2. avatar

    Are there EU members without rule of LAW?

    • avatar

      A lot!

    • avatar

      What is common value? :)

    • avatar

      They have a rule of law but don’t respect the common values and laws.

  3. avatar

    Well, this one is tricky :) Who decides what is freedom and what is jot? It is way to subjective. Not that I want to protect any leadership, but EU top leaders have a tendency to be quite biased when speaking about countries that don’t agree with “Brussels” 100%. It is again a conceptual problem of modern societies, where under the brand of “protect the freedom” you can sell the most crazy ideas to the public which will realize what happened only in a few decades (US has many examples). So… I would say first make the system unambiguous, like a piece of software code, that gives you the same results on every execution and then speak of freedom (which we might realize is actually non-existent).

    • avatar

      OK, thank you sincerely for stating a case, even if I disagree with it. In the case of killing innocent people, though, it’s never been within the bounds of any civilized country – liberal or conservative – to do this. The science regarding the membership of a fetus in homo sapiens is about as unambiguous as science gets.
      In fact, it was typically totalitarian countries that have stripped humans of their rights in order to kill them.

      Furthermore, what’s novel about the Polish situation is that the government specifically outlawed *eugenic* abortion. This makes it much more difficult to pretend that it’s not in fact a person you’re talking about.

    • avatar

      What inhumanity are you talking about? You are all fluff but no substance, man… I guess you are reading too much libtard news.

    • avatar

      Too bad it requires deciphering. Outlawing anything is absolutely fine, until “I” agree to be a part of the game but if “I” find the game unfair or not fitting my goals, “I” should have the option to not play the game, whatever that would mean. You see, not having this option is exactly the reason why totalitarian regimes have their power. And one more thing worth giving a thought. Have you ever asked yourself why “we” need laws? No-no, I don’t say we don’t need them, but why we need them exactly? Try to answer it for yourself (not for me, really, as this is another very subjective topic). I would say, we need laws, to protect “our” interest from “others”. Now next question: who is “us”, and who is “others” in this equation? What are those interests? How you categorize people without creating bias and inequality? I would say you cannot avoid inequality, or even more so, laws are designed to create inequality, that is how this system functions. So again, what I am trying to point out is that we need to look in to the root of the system to find the reasons of our issues, understand that they are global and no topics or countries should be taken out of context. If we can eliminate human bias and think as a single mind, only then this game can be considered something that promotes freedom and not limits it. Now is it real to accomplish? I am pessimistic, but who knows…

    • avatar

      I’m not going to try to decipher the meaning of the second half of your post. Deciding about your own life has nothing to do with the right to kill other people. I am also sure there are other things you would consider it proper for a government to outlaw.

  4. avatar

    How someone could get money from EU who does not share the values? It’s not a one way street

    • avatar

      What values exactly :) ???

    • avatar

      Equality….right of Asyl….freedom of movement….just to name a few

  5. avatar

    Not the money but eu memberships should be..

    • avatar

      The membership already is! What the treaties didn’t forsee is the instances when countries step back from the rule of law and start to go into totalitarianism.

  6. avatar

    If you are biased vs orbans dictatorships or poland’s inhumanity than I am sorry. But what they are doing should be part of the EU.

    Imo has nothing to do with bias, but exactly with that. Comment human rights and democracy.

  7. avatar

    Spain would end up like Venezuela very shortly without EU funding.

  8. avatar

    This ship sailed ony Europe in 1999 when Joerg Haider was invited into govt by the People’s party and no sanctions followed. Once Brussels made it clear that they will tolerate the far right in government, Orban and Law and Justice and now Babis were only a matter of time.

    • avatar

      It’s not a Dutch saying. I am saying your saying is just killing an ever-changing world. And thus doesn’t reflect reality.

      Aka we can change the world. Nothing is set in stone.

  9. avatar

    Not only funds, but above all membership rights.

    In order to join the EU member states had to commit to certain rules. If they don’t follow the rules they also lose the rights.
    Hungary should have been suspended long ago. And Poland has also chosen a path that’s not compatible. Corrupt totalitarian regimes don’t belong in the EU!

    • avatar

      Who will tell what is rule of law????? THE libtards? Anyway, Hungary’s rule of law is healthy and much better than many other w-eu countries where only the liberal doctrine is acceptable. POrtugal is a major shithole with all teh extreme left views.

  10. avatar

    I will safely leave this tricky question to those in charge and with the right diplomatic competences in Brussels. It’s easy to sound tough and say YES. I would say yes. But there is a cost to everything. Governments come and go, populations stay. You don’t want to alienate populations or it might backfire.

  11. avatar
    EU Reform Proactive

    Which law? EU Treaty law? Closer to the Chambers of Fire- EU’s Mount Doom?

    Q: Why of a sudden has the EU Parliament become suspiciously hyperactive by commissioning 3 public opinion surveys during the trying time of the Covid-19 pandemic? Genuine “parental” concerns?

    Does the EP believe that 24,812 “EU online participants” out of 400 million eligible voters= 0.0062%- “selected” (how?) from 27 EU Member States- is a true & representative reflection of the opinion of the rest of the 99.9938%? (Please check my math- might be affected by Covid-19)

    Or, does the EP/EU hope that Covid-19 touched the brains of 400 million less the 24,812 onliners equally to capitulate to unchecked EU Suzerainty?

    Is a flippant online survey the preferred EU & EP way to obtain (by stealth) more & more competencies from National Governments- while having memory lapses how to organise true democratic & meaningful referendums?

    Is pandemic time the best chance to harvest more EU political “competences” from National Governments?

    One cannot be careful enough during times’ when pandemics are ravaging the EU land, while one’s immunity remains low!

  12. avatar
    Atanas Markov

    EU funds should be dependent on rule of law. This is our money and it should go for projects and not to corrupted politicians. Control of spending should also be improved. Currently if documentation is ok and procedures are followed it is decided everything is ok. And some countries have perfected stealing. You need a tender with 3 offers. 3 companies of same owner or just in some agreement give 3 offers with close prices while all others are not allowed to participate in some way. You pay lets say 10 million euro for a kilometer of a road and they skip most materials and labor or hire subcontractors for 20% of the money. No problem currently. Noone will check quality or market price. At the end the new road collapses in less than a year or gets flooded(Yes, we even have a man with canoe to make some fun on such a road.) at the first rain. Example- Bulgaria. Almost all EU funded projects are 100% to the point of rules and at the end nothing is done or repaired things get even worse. But 50-60% if the budget goes to the goverment as payments to their consultant companies or “services” and actually for large infrastructure just 15-20% is used for the real job. And all is ok- OLAF has 2 signals for the last years. Even people from schemes with people in Germany put in jail are free and innocent here(Mario Nikolov for example). And this is a rule of law problem.

    • avatar
      EU Reform Proactive

      @Atanas Markov- Hi there,

      You probably know corruption= dishonesty.
      Degrees of State corruption is political dishonesty on a sliding scale! Grand political corruption can lead to a “failed state” scenario.


      “Folks” promote morally weak & corrupt people to become the country’s political leaders who are networking (spreading the virus of corruption) until a whole nation is captured and their institutions paralyzed or destroyed.


      Bulgaria features at the bottom of the EU Corruption Perceptions Index. (“Very corrupt”) Why, and who’s fault is it?

      Please let’s hear from a Bulgarian WHY?

      I observe: Bulgaria once was part of a “Nanny system”= Nanny State. Simply called communism. Wasn’t it Meant to serve & work as glorified communalism- everyone equal?

      Do you expect that the EU concept can fix and transform the many- (eagerly longing for another nanny)- to become honest folks, honest entrepreneurs & honest politicians overnight- by sending the EU arch angles?


    • avatar
      EU Reform Proactive

      Atanas, should you have carefully read the attached links- you would find that the EU tries to promote transparency, accountability and to prevent corruption.
      It’s called an “Integrity Pact” linking all EU funded projects.

      It is not clear & I am not sure- maybe it is this “contractual rule of law” the DE is referring to? Not any of the untouchable “Treaty laws”.


      Anyone wishing to support “honesty” & possesses credible evidence of said corruption plus a measure of bravery could consider becoming a “Whistleblower”!

      However, It could be dangerous to mess with gangster without protection!

  13. avatar

    Any country which defends his citizens and vote rules to ensure his safety should not be banned What EU name state of law means promote rights of migrants who kill us every day..

  14. avatar

    EU membership should be predicated on rule of law, don’t you think? Else what does the European Union represent?

  15. avatar

    It’s a real dilemma because those suffering are also suffering because of poor governance. The principle is right of course.

  16. avatar

    im not sure of entire EU politics etc.. but i think if a country joins the EU and is a fully paid up member .so to speak..then all funds should be accesable to them equally ..thats ,after all what we sign up to( maybe there will be some exceptions..but this must be debated democrattically between all the other member states)..greetings from Ireland :D

  17. avatar

    The EU is about a certain set of values, democratic principles and culture. It is not a cash cow to produce money on demand. Any countries that do not share the values and do not adhere to the principles should be thrown out.

  18. avatar


  19. avatar


  20. avatar

    Merkel should be tried for pushing sanctions without any reason, solely based on USAn orders. Shouldn’t that be your question?Any misuse of blocking EU funds under the pretext of “rule of law”, should be considered treason and carry a death sentence for the EU officials who misuse it.Right now the most corrupt politicians in power in EU, like Borrisov in Bulgaria are being protected by EU politicians, while that narrative is being used to interfere in internal politics of other countries. Makes you wonder why some NGOs are pushing foreign interests’ propaganda, without investigation, doesn’t it?

  21. avatar

    Merkel should be tried for pushing sanctions without any reason, solely based on USAn orders. Shouldn’t that be your question?Any misuse of blocking EU funds under the pretext of “rule of law”, should be considered treason and carry a death sentence for the EU officials who misuse it.Right now the most corrupt politicians in power in EU, like Borrisov in Bulgaria are being protected by EU politicians, while that narrative is being used to interfere in internal politics of other countries. Makes you wonder why some NGOs are pushing foreign interests’ propaganda, without investigation, doesn’t it?

  22. avatar

    This is a great idea, which is going to be used for bulling purposes by EU’s plutocracy.For example – the Bulgarian premier Borisov (leader of on of the most corrupt countries in EU), who even had leaked photos with gold bars and bribe money on multiple occasions, has full support by EU politicians and ENP!?So that “rule of law” (whose law by the way?) has nothing to do with “democratic values”, which again is complete B.S.

    • avatar

      George Thomson Thankfully for us Bulgarians he is not our PM anymore. For 6 months the interim government did more good things for our country than he did for 12 years.

  23. avatar

    You look only for your self,and your future nothing for the poor people BRAVO .

  24. avatar

    EU funds should not exist at all. They do more harm than good for the economy of the member states.

  25. avatar

    Great debate topic. No but yes in some issues. My main goal greater integration. USA does not punish Florida or California for restrictive or progressive policies. But certain issues do constitute reason for punitive measures.

  26. avatar

    Yes, and national member states should be abolished too – welcome United States of Europe.

  27. avatar

    What kind of ‘democratic values’ are we talking about when you want to punish a member state for having different views from Brussels ?

  28. avatar

    UE ne-a dus la o sărăcie fără precedent prin scumpirea gazului, curentului și combustibili

  29. avatar

    What is undemocratic in polish policy. Is democracy only socialism?

  30. avatar

    EU membership is already linked to the rule of law.

    • avatar

      Do you think this conditionality should still exist once EU membership is obtained?

    • avatar


    • avatar

      It has to exist. Otherwise anyone can join and then do as they please.

    • avatar

      but also the big group should think about the need and the particularities of the little ones. I am gonna give you an example. For now since we are having an energy crisis i think the fine for poland to close their coal mine is a little big out of sync with the times and i think that in general the eu needs to be more agile … even if it’s big…

  31. avatar

    It depends who is making the rules. If it is a couple of “gender” bureaucrats in Brussels, I think different approach to the management of EU should be invented

    • avatar

      rule of law is about the independence of the judicial system.
      What has been happening especially in Hungary and Poland lately is absolutely unacceptable.
      Without control governments can do whatever they feel like. A paradise for corruption and totalitarianism.
      So both countries should be suspended from membership already!
      I just feel very sorry for the citizens of those countries.

    • avatar

      About corruption, yes that is a problem, but I don’t think that governments of Poland and Hungary are doing unacceptable things 🙂
      Brussels will control the will power of Poland and Hungarian people … come on 😀
      EU is becoming very totalitarian.

  32. avatar

    Since EU politicians have broken EU law, shouldn’t they be in jail, rather than attempting extortion of Hungary!?First fix EU or that scheme will be used for extortion of EU countries. We have plenty of EC/EU politicians which serve foreign interests… shoudn’t they by charged with treason?

  33. avatar

    No. What law? The one non elected bureaucrats decide in EU?

  34. avatar

    Laws matter for those in power? Well that’s new.

  35. avatar

    The actual debate is not that. There is hardly any argument about the rule of law. The true question is: should the Brussel be allowed to set standards what a law should look like and interpret at will whether a law in a sovereign country is good or bad or whatever. We’ve already seen that Brussels is often biased in their political stance in favour of various lobbies and making decisions that based on neither science nor logic: e.g. exclusion of nuclear power from the so called “green investment taxonomy” and now proposing to include it in a shameful package with gas. Why should we believe those same people (unelected) are able to point fingers to another country and say: we know better than your elected parliament and you should amend your laws to suit our narrative of the day?

  36. avatar
    JT HK

    Dictatorship of “democracy”. No different from Hitler who is also a elected by resorting to populism who sought to save the collapsing postwar Germany economy by targeting on internal enemy by killing and robing the wealth of the Jews. Externally, he sought to invade small and weak state in the name of nationalism. All these are manipulation to divert attention of citizens from their failure in protecting people dying in the COVID and unable to revitalize the economy. We all seem to be witness the recurrence of the interwar period Europe with leaders vigorously seeking to ignite the Third World War…

  37. avatar
    JT HK

    This is not about the rule of law, it is about submitting responsible government of Hungary who wants to protect the people from irrational sanctions against Russia made by the populist leadership who prefer to kill Europe for the American great again. EU leaders are betraying citizens.

  38. avatar
    JT HK

    Definitely wrong. Hungarians have all their rights and freedom to vote for a leader to government. Hungary is a sovereign state.

  39. avatar
    Dan Cam

    Poland & Hungary were keen to join the EU back in 2004, look at all the money we would get, let’s go in! Then comes the rules & they say we don’t want to follow the rules! Poland & Hungary signed the treaties & got the money so they should follow the rule they signed up to! The UK didn’t want to follow the rules, so they left! Poland & Hungary should leave if they don’t like it!

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