Just a little something to keep an eye upon in the years to come. The European Union’s definition of the rule of law. For this is happening:
Brussels will have powers to cut off cash to countries that fail a new “rule of law” test under the European Union’s first post-Brexit spending plan.
The European Commission’s €1.3 trillion budget for 2021-28, presented by Jean-Claude Juncker yesterday, attempts to fill the hole left in the EU’s coffers by Britain’s exit but risks deepening faultlines across the bloc over divisive issues including refugee quotas and judicial independence.
Mr Juncker, the commission president, anticipating such battles, as well as arguments about how to slice the Brussels pie, urged members to show solidarity in the months ahead. He insisted that the new budget represented an “opportunity to shape our future as a new, ambitious union of 27”.
However, the plan threatens to institutionalise already widening east-west divisions. Poland and Hungary have led protests at the demand that funding be made conditional on passing the new “rule of law” test.
The proposal, described as a “major innovation”, is designed to prevent former eastern bloc countries violating democratic freedoms, and force them to respect EU quotas of refugees, on pain of losing Brussels cash.
For what can we define as the rule of law?
That all must follow what is written down on the piece of paper? The EU doesn’t exactly work that way, does it, as that demand for Apple to pay €13 billion in taxes rather shows.
Or is there some grander version of law in mind here? For example, there’s an interesting little scuffle going on over money allocated to groupings in the EU parliament. Only those who support the basics of the EU can get the money from being in a grouping. And that’s where the money is, in groupings, not in individual seats or parties. But the “basics” of the EU include ever closer union – so, should a grouping which includes Ukip, definitively not interested in closer union, get group funding?
We can see the danger. Of course, anyone can stand for election but only if they accord to some basic rules. Like, say, being a member of the communist party as at least one country has said in the past. The thing about the EU’s insistence on the rule of law isn’t that they’ll bend it in this manner, it’s only how far they will.
By the way, note what they already mean – when an elected national government doesn’t do what it’s told to by Brussels, that’s not the rule of law.