Rule of Law compromise unlocks €1.8 trillion
by Hanna Hanses
At the end of their last Summit in 2020, EU leaders gathered in Brussels were in an upbeat mood. They had indeed some good reasons to be satisfied, as they had agreed far-reaching and ambitious conclusions on pressing challenges such as climate change, COVID-19, strengthening the Economic and Monetary Union and the Banking Union as well as on important security and foreign policy issues.
Yet it is clear, in Europe and elsewhere, that hardly anything can be done without money. EU leaders were therefore particularly pleased about the deal they struck on the multi-annual financial framework for 2021 – 2027 and a recovery package known as Next Generation EU, worth a combined total of €1.8 trillion. The compromise became possible because the European Council addressed some concerns raised by Hungary and Poland about the rule of law conditionality for the protection of the EU budget. With this compromise, the path is now clear for the Council and the European Parliament to swiftly adopt the whole package of relevant instruments, including the decision on the EU’s own resources.
Importantly, the European Council’s political compromise does not weaken the legal text on the rule of law mechanism adopted earlier this year by the Council and the European Parliament. On the other hand, there should be no illusion: serious challenges are likely to continue for media freedom, an independent judiciary and rights of women and sexual minorities in some EU Member States. Civil society organisations and philanthropic foundations will need to remain vigilant and support all those who fight for universal, indivisible and interdependent human rights and the rule of law.